Thai authorities to deport 70 Pakistani asylum seekers

Pakistani refugees exit a police truck as they arrive at the Immigration Detention Center, on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, in Bangkok, Thailand. (AP Photo/Tassanee Vejpongsa)
Updated 11 October 2018
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Thai authorities to deport 70 Pakistani asylum seekers

  • Separately on Thursday, immigration police said they charged 24 foreigners with overstaying their visas
  • Thailand regularly deports foreigners who are in the country illegally

BANGKOK: Thai authorities on Thursday convicted 70 Pakistani asylum seekers of staying illegally in Thailand despite their protestations that they face persecution if they are sent home, as police intensify a crackdown on illegal immigration.
The Taling Chan Provincial Court issued fines and up to two-month suspended jail sentences to the group, which was charged with overstaying their visas and illegal entry. An officer in charge of the case, who declined to be named because of office policy, said they will be held in a detention center until they are deported.
The group was accompanied by 11 children who will also be held in the detention center.
One of the defendants, Emmanuel Shan, said the group consists mostly of Christian Pakistanis and some Ahmadi Muslims, and that members of the two religious groups face persecution in Pakistan.
"I'm Christian and my life and family are not safe back in Pakistan," he said.
In 1984, predominately Muslim Pakistan enacted amendments to its constitution which punish Ahmadis who call themselves Muslims "or pose to be Muslims" with up to three years in prison.
Police said 52 of the defendants were arrested Tuesday after they were found to have formed a group that smuggled Pakistani asylum seekers into Thailand with the goal of reaching other countries.
Thailand regularly deports foreigners who are in the country illegally, even if they are recognized by the United Nations as refugees who are fleeing persecution.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Busadee Santipitaks said Thailand is not part of the United Nation's 1951 Refugee Convention and authorities have to act on violations of the law. She said the government deals with migrants with U.N. refugee status on a case-by-case basis.
Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, said those who have refugee status or whose cases are being processed should not be detained.
"This is a rights-abusing populist policy that denigrates Thailand and makes Thailand look cruel," Robertson said.
On Monday, Thai authorities announced they would step up efforts to arrest foreigners without appropriate legal status.
Lt. Gen. Kongcheep Tantravanich, spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, said Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan has ordered a one-month campaign to crack down on foreigners overstaying their visas.
Police Lt. Gen. Suttipong Wongpin, acting commissioner of the immigration bureau, said last week that the government had instructed police to strictly enforce the law on foreigners who violate immigration law.
Separately on Thursday, immigration police said they charged 24 foreigners with overstaying their visas and 11 others with illegal entry.


Pakistan ready to respond to a full spectrum threat — army spokesman

Updated 48 min 39 sec ago
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Pakistan ready to respond to a full spectrum threat — army spokesman

  • Prepared to counter any attack from Indian security forces
  • Warns New Delhi against action; says Islamabad “would surprise you”

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor warned India on Friday against any military action, saying that should New Delhi “show any aggression,” it would be Islamabad that would “surprise you”. 
He added in the same breath that “we do not wish to go to war”.
In his statement — which was in response to growing threats from its nuclear-armed neighbor — the spokesperson said that Islamabad was prepared to respond to a “full spectrum threat” without enabling its nuclear capability.
“Pakistan is not preparing for war. War and revenge threats are coming from you. We are a sovereign state and hold the right to respond to your threats. We are not preparing to initiate, but response and defense is our right and we will exercise that,” he said, adding that he hoped India “got the message”.
Ghafoor said Islamabad delayed its response to the Pulwama attack to investigate New Delhi’s baseless claims of state-sponsored terrorism to ascertain the veracity of the allegations, following which Prime Minister Imran Khan responded in a televised address to the nation on Tuesday wherein he rejected the assertion and warned New Delhi of retaliation if attacked.
He said that Khan has offered to assist India in investigating the attack if it can back its claims and would take strict measures against the person who is “an enemy of Pakistan”, an offer Ghafoor said has been given before as well. He added that “terrorism is a regional problem and Pakistan is willing to table talks with India on the matter”.
Ghafoor made the comments at a press briefing which came a week after a deadly suicide attack in the Pulwama district of Indian-administered Kashmir. The attack killed more than 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel and left scores injured.
Listing terror incidents of the past in India or Indian-administered Kashmir, Ghafoor said there is a pattern of occurrences of this nature adding that “when an important event for Pakistan is scheduled to happen, this type of stage action arises”.
The brazen bombing came before eight very important engagements for Pakistan, Ghafoor explained connecting India’s previous attempts to paint Pakistan as the sponsor of terrorism, hold its western neighbor responsible and push it toward diplomatic isolation.
“Saudi Crown Prince was due in Pakistan to hold a (historic) investment conference, talks on terror listing at United Nations Security Council was scheduled, development on Afghan peace reconciliation process was underway, discussions on human rights violations in Indian-administered Kashmir at the European Union was due, the decisive hearing of (Indian spy) Kulbushan Jhadav case at the world court, a discussion on Financial Action Task Force was to take place for a decision on Pakistan, both sides (India and Pakistan) were to hold a meeting on the Kartarpur border crossing development, and Pakistan super league cricket matches [in which foreign players are participating] had begun,” he said.
The military spokesman questioned how cross border infiltration could have happened when the number of Indian security forces is larger than the population of Kashmiris. “India should ask its forces which have been there for seven decades and spent a huge quantum on defense, how infiltration occurred?” he said.
“The attack happened miles from the Line of Control (LoC), the explosives used were under use by Indian security forces and administration – it didn’t come from Pakistan. The vehicle used was local, not from Pakistan. The attack [was carried out ] by the young Kashmiri, who was resident of Indian-administered Kashmir,” Ghafoor said.
He added that Pakistan is the only country in the world that has not let terrorism take control of its narrative and has given ample sacrifices to counter it. He cited the example of Islamabad helping other nations eliminate Al Qaeda from Afghanistan.
Kashmir, he said, is the biggest issue of the region and offered India to resume talks on the matter. Being the world’s largest democracy, India needs “introspection” on the Kashmir issue and two democracies can’t afford war, he said.