RAWALPINDI: In line with an ultimatum for them to leave the country, more than 8,500 undocumented immigrants in Rawalpindi division have so far left for Afghanistan, with their number on the constant decline across the division.

However, in spite of the ongoing crackdown targeting undocumented foreign nationals, currently, a total of 6,451 ‘illegal foreigners’ were living across the division, officials sources claimed. At least 6,116 in Rawalpindi district, 310 in Attock district and 25 in Chakwal district have been residing till now, official sources said.

They said there were 11,852 ‘illegal immigrants’ in Rawalpindi district, 2,500 in Attock, 1,170 in Chakwal and 813 in Jhelum.

A total of 8,572 foreigners/Afghans voluntarily repatriated from across the division after the deadline expired on October 31 and during the ongoing crackdown, the official said.

Over 8,500 undocumented immigrants exit Rawalpindi

He further said that 5,000 undocumented migrants from Rawalpindi district, 1,786 from Attock district, 1,145 from Chakwal district and 641 from Jhelum district had returned to Afghanistan.

A senior police official said in Rawalpindi district, 736 foreigners were detained, 404 in Attock and 249 in Chakwal. At least 111 were rounded up in Jhelum district. Out of these, 216 people could not produce identity documents and were subsequently deported, said a police official.

Likewise, 124 foreigners were deported from Rawalpindi district, 80 from Attock district and 12 from Jhelum district.

A total of 99 foreigners from across the division were arrested for staying without documents. He said during the ongoing crackdown, seven unregistered foreigners had been arrested from Rawalpindi, 80 from Attock and 12 from Jhelum.

He said that 194 foreigners detained in district Rawalpindi were released from the ‘holding camp’ on providing (POR) proof of residence and scrutiny, while 292 foreigners were released from Attock district, 81 from Jhelum, and 249 foreigners from Chakwal.

Out of those detained at the ‘holding camp’ in Rawalpindi, at least 310 were released after producing Afghan citizen cards. 59 residents from district Attock and 20 from Jhelum were released for the same reason.

After the confirmation of the representative of UNHCR, 101 Afghans were released from the ‘holding centre’ in district Rawalpindi, eight from Attock district, and 20 from Jhelum. Four people from a ‘holding camp’ in Attock after it was revealed that their Canadian visas were in process.

According to the Rawalpindi deputy commissioner, eight people are detained at a ‘holding centre’ in the district and they will be detained there till Friday.

DC Dr Hassan Waqar Cheema said 90 people were brought to the ‘holding camp’ and only eight immigrants did not have proof to stay in Pakistan. He said the federal government had set two days for Rawalpindi division to transport undocumented immigrants to the Pak-Afghan border.

The deputy commissioner said the ‘holding camp’ in Rawalpindi could accommodate more than 550 people and added there were no families detained at the ‘holding centres’.

He said that the revenue officials and anti-polio teams also recorded data about Afghan nationals in the district last week. He said that the number of Afghans in the garrison city’s union councils was in a steady decline. “As the mostly illegal migrants left the district and country and some of them applied for the asylum in different countries and if they request rejected then they had no choice to go back to their homeland,” he said.

It may be noted that the district administration established a camp for ‘illegal foreign nationals’ at Government Shehbaz Sharif Associate College in Khayaban-i-Sir Syed, where undocumented immigrants were being detained for the scrutiny of their documents and potential deportation to Afghanistan.

Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2023

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