PESHAWAR: The Government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has ordered all unregistered and illegal Afghan refugees to leave the country by Friday, August 31 or face legal action.
The Home and Travel Department of KP issued a directive instructing those foreign nationals, including Afghan refugees, who do not hold Proof of Registration (POR) cards or valid visa documents to leave the country by August 31. The provincial government has warned all foreign nationals of legal action and possible arrests if they fail to follow the directives.
Pakistan is currently home to over three million Afghan refugees, according to some statistics, while around 2.5 million refugees were believed to have returned to Afghanistan following the deployment of US-led Nato forces in the country.
While majority of the Afghan refugees are based in KP and the adjoining Federally Administered Tribal Areas, several thousand have also spread out to the Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan provinces in the years since the Afghan War. Provincial governments have reportedly been cracking down on refugee camps and send hoards of illegal refugees and deporting them via the Torkham Pass close to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
Meanwhile in Peshawar, the DCO has said that the local police and law-enforcement agencies have been, on a daily basis, arresting and deporting foreign nationals living in the province without legal documents in accordance with the “14 Foreign Act.”
Those foreign nationals who are involved in businesses and trade have been told to wind up their work by year-end and leave the country otherwise they will be evicted.
Apart from Afghan refugees, nationals of Central Asian countries, including Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have also been reportedly been living in KP and Fata and have, in some cases, disguised themselves as Afghan nationals.
Last month, officials of UNHCR denied a report published in a foreign newspaper that Pakistan would expel Afghan refugees by the end of the year. — With files from Zahir Shah Sherazi