Can’t compromise national security by accommodating undocumented foreigners: PM

Can’t compromise national security by accommodating undocumented foreigners: PM

Islamabad: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has said that Pakistan can not longer compromise its national security by accommodating huge numbers of undocumented foreigners, including Afghan nationals.

In an article published in daily ‘The Telegraph’, he said our ultimate aim is to build a safer, more peaceful and prosperous Pakistan with associated benefits for our own people, for the region, and the wider world.

The Prime Minister said at least 16 Afghan nationals have carried out suicide attacks inside Pakistan since August 2021. He added that 65 terrorists killed in encounters with security forces were identified as Afghans. He said no responsible government can ignore such concerns. He said whenever we raised this with the interim Afghan government, they advised us to ‘look inwards’. We have finally decided to heed to their advice to put our house in order.

Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar said our emphasis is on voluntary, safe and dignified repatriation of individuals, along with their legally acquired assets, and not on deportation. He mentioned that some 93 percent of those who have returned to Afghanistan have done so voluntarily. He said none of the 1.46 million Afghans who applied for proof of registration cards have been returned; nor have 800,000 or so individuals who hold Afghan citizen cards.

The PM said Pakistan has set up some 79 transit centres, providing free meals, shelter and medical facilities while additional crossing points have been opened on the Pakistan-Afghan Border to facilitate the processes.

Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar highlighted that Pakistan has been hosting around five million Afghans for the last four decades. He said hospitality is in Pakistan's DNA which is why we have, and will continue to fulfill our legal, moral and humanitarian obligations. Unfortunately, despite frequent opportunities to repatriate voluntarily, and multiple government attempts to register those who remain undocumented, a significant number has persistently refused to formalize their status, choosing instead to stay in the shadows.

Kakar said that Pakistan has benefited from many hardworking and law-abiding migrants, but the overall socio-economic and security cost of this huge influx has been staggering. Many work on the black market, paying no tax, depressing wages for legitimate workers. They are also susceptible to exploitation by the criminal underworld, with all its disturbing links to terrorist organisations operating in the region.

The premier mentioned that the abrupt withdrawal of Western allies from Afghanistan in August 20201 prompted a whole new influx of refugees to Pakistan. Hundreds of thousands of Afghan nationals crossed the border, claiming their lives were in danger. Again, we take their welfare very seriously, recognising that some do require special protection.

Kakar, however, declared that we will not deport at-risk groups, such as musicians, journalists, and human rights activists.