Bigwigs in Chaman to calm border protest

Published October 27, 2023
Residents and traders demonstrate against the new immigration policy, near Afghanistan-Pakistan border at Chaman in Balochistan on October 26. — AFP
Residents and traders demonstrate against the new immigration policy, near Afghanistan-Pakistan border at Chaman in Balochistan on October 26. — AFP

• GB, Balochistan govts warn ‘illegal foreigners’ to leave before Nov 1
• Quetta corps commander meets tribal elders
• Two held for making fake ID cards

QUETTA: Top civil and military officials arrived in Chaman on Thursday to hold talks with protesters opposing new restrictions imposed on crossing the border with Afghanistan.

For the past five days, thousands of political workers, traders and tribesmen have been protesting against the government’s decision to only allow travellers with a passport and visa to enter from Afghanistan.

They have demanded restoring the old border crossing system as locals have families on both sides, and the new restriction will impede their movement.

Quetta Corps Commander Lt Gen Asif Ghafoor visited the border town along with the Frontier Corps inspector general, heads of FIA and Nadra and other officials.

They attended a jirga with tribal elders, political leaders, the business community, traders and representatives of daily wagers.

The tribal elders expressed reservations over new restrictions and said thousands of people living in the border town would be deprived of their livelihood if the decision is implemented.

They also raised the issue of harassment faced by Pakhtuns in Karachi, Lahore and other cities during the ongoing operation against illegal Afghan nationals.

Lt Gen Ghafoor told the jirga that as per previous regulations, people were allowed to cross the border on the basis of national identity cards.

Now, the state has decided to regulate border crossing and allow only those with all legal documents, including a passport and valid visa.

He assured the tribal leaders that he will discuss this situation with the government.

Maulana Abdul Manan, the sit-in convener, told Dawn protesters asked the corps commander and other officials to review the new restrictions on border crossing.

‘1,400 unregistered foreigners repatriated’

Balochistan Minister for Home and Tribal Affairs retired Capt Zubair Ahmed Jamali has said over 1,400 unregistered foreign nationals, including Afghans, have been repatriated voluntarily.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, the minister said all illegal immigrants will be deported by Oct 31 — the deadline given by the federal government to all undocumented foreigners to leave Pakistan.

He said authorities have collected data on illegal immigrants through geo-fencing in Quetta and other areas of the province.

Afghan refugees “are our brothers,” and they will be sent to their country with full respect and honour, he added. “Nobody would be allowed to commit any atrocity with them.”

The minister added that Afghans coming to Pakistan with a passport and valid visa would be welcomed.

He also urged the citizens to cooperate with the authorities and share information about illegal foreign nationals living in their areas. He warned that from Nov 1, the government will start taking action against illegal immigrants who were still present in the country.

Replying to a question on the imposition of Section 144 in Quetta, the minister said it was done given the security situation in the provincial capital.

GB govt warns illegal foreigners

The Gilgit-Baltistan government has also warned all undocumented foreigners living in the region to leave voluntarily by November 1.

A notification issued by Gilgit Division Commissioner Kamaluddin Qamar said those who wouldn’t leave by the deadline would be deported and punitive action taken against them.

When contacted, Mr Qamar told Dawn that 126 Afghan nationals were living in GB without documentation.

Afghan nationals arrested

Separately, two Afghan nationals were arrested on Thursday for allegedly making fake Pakistani NICs for Afghan refugees and forging identity cards of sensitive institution personnel.

The arrests were made from Nosahar, a locality on the outskirts of Quetta, according to police.

Officials said a joint team of police and intelligence agencies raided a place on a tip-off and arrested the suspects.

“A computer and other sensitive documents were seized during the raid,” a senior official said, adding that a case has been registered and further investigation was in progress.

Jamil Nagri in Gilgit also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2023

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