COAS says illegal foreigners ‘seriously affecting’ Pakistan’s security and economy, backs deportation drive

Published December 7, 2023
Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir interacts with soldiers during a visit to Peshawar on Thursday. — Photo by ISPR
Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir interacts with soldiers during a visit to Peshawar on Thursday. — Photo by ISPR

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir on Thursday backed the interim government’s decision to deport illegal foreigners, saying that they were “seriously affecting Pakistan’s security and economy”.

According to a handout issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the army chief passed these remarks during a visit to Peshawar.

In November, the caretakers initiated a nationwide campaign to deport illegal foreign nationals, the majority of whom are Afghans. While the decision had prompted criticism from Afghanistan and several other quarters, the government refused to budge, insisting the move was not aimed at any particular ethnic group.

Of the more than four million Afghans living in Pakistan, the government estimates 1.7m are undocumented. So far, thousands of Afghans have returned home from the Torkham and Chaman border crossings.

Last week, while hearing petitions challenging the deportation drive, the Supreme Court had said Pakistan was bound to United Nations conventions protecting immigrants and issued notices to the government on the matter.

During a session with participants of the First National Workshop Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (NWKP-1) today, Gen Munir said: “Illegal foreigners were seriously affecting Pakistan’s security and economy.”

“[The] decision to repatriate them has been taken by the government in the interest of Pakistan. Illegal foreigners are being repatriated to their countries in a humane and dignified manner as per the established norms,” the military’s media wing quoted him as saying.

The COAS further remarked that KP’s “resolute support” to security forces had resulted in stability in the province and the materialisation of progress on projects of social economic development.

He linked the prosperity of Pakistan with KP and emphasised that “nefarious designs of the forces inimical to peace and stability of Pakistan are being foiled through a synergetic and comprehensive strategy”.

Gen Munir also highlighted the importance of economic growth and development in newly merged districts, the ISPR said.

Earlier, the army chief interacted with soldiers and lauded their “heroic and exemplary feats”.

“The nation takes pride and acknowledges the accomplishments of its armed forces. Pakistan is destined to succeed and Pakistan Army will continue to undertake its selfless and sacred duty of safeguarding every inch of the motherland till last drop of blood, InshaAllah [God willing],” he vowed.

Earlier on arrival, the COAS was received by Peshawar Corps Commander and given a detailed briefing on the overall security situation, ongoing counter-terrorism operations, repatriation of Illegal foreigners and socio-economic developments in the Newly Merged Districts, the ISPR statement said.

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