Karachi (Reuters) – Pakistan set a Nov. 1 deadline for all foreigners without legal documents, including more than a million Afghans, to leave the country or face forcible expulsion.
Here are key facts about Islamabad’s plan to deport hundreds of thousands back to its western neighbour Afghanistan:
– Pakistan announced the Wednesday deadline on Oct. 3, giving more than a million people about four weeks to move.
– The sudden expulsion threat came after suicide bombings this year that the government said involved Afghans, though without providing evidence. Islamabad has also blamed them for smuggling and other militant attacks as well as petty crimes.
– Islamabad says Afghan nationals were found to be involved in attacks against government and the army, including 14 of this year’s 24 suicide bombings.
– Pakistan is home to more than 4 million Afghan migrants and refugees, about 1.7 million of them undocumented, according to Islamabad, although many have lived in Pakistan for their entire lives.
– About 600,000 Afghans have crossed into Pakistan since the Taliban took over in 2021, joining a large number present since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the ensuing civil wars.
– More than 60,000 Afghans returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan between Sept. 23 and Oct. 22, ahead of the deadline, with thousands more expected to have been on the move last week.
– Islamabad says deportation will be orderly, carried out in phases and start with those who have criminal records. Authorities have vowed raids in areas suspected of housing “undocumented foreigners” after Wednesday.
– Authorities have set up “holding centres” to process deportees before they return to Afghanistan. Reuters could not determine how long they might be detained in the centres.