Pakistan: Politicians, activists move SC against deportation of Afghan refugees

A view of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Islamabad, Pakistan April 20, 2017

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Several politicians across different parties have moved to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, urging the apex court to intervene in the interim government’s decision to deport the “illegal foreigners” from the country, The News International reported.
The caretakers last month directed 1.7 million Afghans — living in the country “illegally” — to leave Pakistan by November 1 or face arrests, and deportation.

Politicians including Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Farhatullah Babar, Jamaat-e-Islami’s Senator Mushtaq Ahmed, National Democratic Movement’s (NDM) Mohsin Dawar, and others have moved the top court to take suo motu notice of the caretaker government’s policy under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution.
The federation, Islamabad Capital Territory, all four provinces, United National High Commission for Refugees, and relevant ministries and departments have been made parties to the case.
The petitioners, in their plea, mentioned that the caretakers had launched a mass deportation drive against “illegal immigrants” without providing any robust mechanism for distinguishing refugees, asylum-seekers, and birthright citizens.
“This decision, attributed to the apex committee of the caretaker government, is causing a massive violation of fundamental rights of around 4.4 million persons of Afghan origin who are for the time being in Pakistan,” the plea stated.

“It is also leading to a deterioration in the citizen-state relationship of all the 240 million people living in Pakistan; once state officials get accustomed to indiscriminately shoving human beings in containers and throwing them out, there is no limit to where it will end, The News International cited the plea.
The petitioners further said that the present decision amounts to a reversal of Pakistan’s 45-year-old policy of extending hospitality to refugees, asylum-seekers, and even unregistered immigrants — a strategic decision that falls completely beyond the limited constitutional mandate of the caretaker government.
They demanded that the state and its instrumentalities be barred from detaining, forcefully deporting, or otherwise harassing anyone who was born in Pakistan and has a claim to birth-right citizenship in accordance with Section 4 of the Citizenship Act, 1951.

The authorities have started rounding up undocumented foreigners ahead of Wednesday’s midnight deadline for them to leave or face expulsion.

Afghans have made up the bulk of around 1,40,000 such immigrants to have voluntarily left so far, officials said, some of whom have lived in Pakistan for decades.
Of the more than 4 million Afghans living in Pakistan, the government estimates 1.7 million are “undocumented”.
Many fled Afghanistan during its decades of internal conflict since the late 1970s, while the Taliban takeover after the US withdrawal in 2021 led to another exodus.
But Pakistan has taken a stringent stance, saying Afghan nationals have been behind militant attacks, smuggling and other crimes in the country


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