Differentiating Between Afghan Refugees and Illegal Immigrants

In a recent policy clarification, Pakistan has emphasized its commitment to differentiating between Afghan refugees and illegal immigrants. This announcement comes as the government seeks to address concerns related to national security and law enforcement.

The Pakistani government has made it clear that it distinguishes between Afghan refugees who are legally registered and living in the country and those who have entered or stayed illegally. According to official statistics, there are approximately 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan holding Proof of Registration (POR) cards, and an additional 0.8 million Afghan Citizens’ Cards (ACC) holders.

Government aims to prioritize the repatriation of illegal immigrants, regardless of their nationality, who have been residing in the country without proper documentation. This move aligns with Pakistan’s commitment to national security and law and order.

Addressing concerns about illegal immigrants, Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti stated, “Our priority is to ensure that those residing in Pakistan have legal status. This is not limited to any specific nationality but applies to all individuals who are residing in Pakistan without proper documentation.”

The government has encouraged all individuals, including Afghan nationals, who may be staying in the country illegally, to come forward and legalize their status by following the established procedures. This process includes registering with the authorities and obtaining the necessary documentation to ensure their stay in Pakistan is compliant with the law. The Pakistani government’s stance is a response to the security challenges posed by individuals with uncertain legal status. In recent years, Pakistan has faced security concerns linked to illegal immigrants, making it essential to prioritize repatriation efforts and establish a clear distinction between refugees and those staying illegally.

While the government remains committed to providing humanitarian assistance to Afghan refugees who have been registered and documented, it is equally determined to maintain law and order by addressing the issue of illegal immigration comprehensively. Pakistan’s approach underscores its commitment to ensuring the safety and security of its citizens while also fulfilling its responsibilities as a host country for refugees. It is hoped that this policy clarification will lead to a more structured and secure environment for all residents in Pakistan, irrespective of their nationality, by distinguishing between Afghan refugees and illegal immigrants.