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Afghan Families in Pakistan Face Uncertainty as Deadline for Undocumented Foreigners Looms

Thousands in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Concerned About Their Stay Amidst Deportation Deadline

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, thousands of Afghan families are gripped by apprehension regarding their future in Pakistan, following the government’s proposal to set a deadline for unregistered foreigners to leave the country by October 31, as reported by The News International, an English-language newspaper in Pakistan.

This deadline particularly targets undocumented foreigners who lack a Proof of Registration (PoR) card issued by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees or any other valid document to legitimize their residency in Pakistan. Additionally, concerns have been raised about numerous Afghan families suspected of obtaining Pakistani Computerized National Identity Cards (CNICs) through fraudulent means.

The government’s decision has sparked distress among families and individuals residing in both urban and rural areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Refugees possessing PoR cards or other legally recognized documents have been assured that they will not face deportation in the impending drive.

Various political leaders and members of civil society have urged the Pakistan government to safeguard the dignity of Afghan families who have been guests in the country for decades.

According to officials, approximately 700,000 Afghans currently reside in various parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as refugees, with the largest concentration, over 221,300 individuals, settled in the provincial capital. Thousands more are believed to be residing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa without any formal documentation legitimizing their stay.

In response to the deportation deadline, a significant number of unregistered families have begun preparations to return to Afghanistan. Daily, scores of these families are crossing into Afghanistan through the Torkham border.

Government agencies, including the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), are actively gathering information on individuals who acquired Pakistani CNICs in recent years and possess properties or businesses in Pakistan. The FIA has taken action against several officials of a government department involved in issuing counterfeit CNICs to foreigners.

Throughout the current year, police have detained hundreds of unregistered Afghan nationals under the 14 Foreigners Act for their lack of proper documentation. Furthermore, in the provincial capital, 385 Afghan nationals have been apprehended for alleged involvement in criminal activities during the same period.

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