The Pakistani government has launched a nationwide operation to deport illegal foreign nationals, primarily Afghans, after the deadline to leave the country voluntarily expired. The government gave an ultimatum for all undocumented immigrants to leave Pakistan by October 31 or face imprisonment and deportation. The government claims that there are over 1.7 million illegal Afghan residents in the country. Holding centres have been established to detain the foreign nationals before they are deported, and thousands of houses belonging to the immigrants have been demolished. The government has issued instructions to deport illegal foreigners under the Foreigners Act, with the identification process of illegal foreigners residing in Sindh completed. The Taliban government in Afghanistan has asked Pakistan to give the undocumented Afghans more time to leave. The Taliban authorities have thanked Pakistan and other countries for hosting millions of Afghan refugees but called for them to be given more time to depart. The deportation process has prompted a mass exodus of Afghans, creating bottlenecks at border crossings. Pakistan claims that the deportations are necessary for the country’s welfare and security due to increased attacks blamed on militants operating from Afghanistan. The crackdown has received support from Pakistanis who are burdened by the presence of refugees. However, activists and lawyers have called for more time to be given to the Afghans to leave with dignity.
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