KARACHI: Police in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi booked 41 Afghan nationals for illegally residing in the city, saying the crackdown against such foreign nationals would also continue in the coming weeks.
Pakistan experienced the first influx of Afghan nationals over four decades ago when the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan in 1979. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 1.4 million Afghans still live in 54 camps across Pakistan despite a voluntary repatriation program.
Afghan refugee settlements are also located on the outskirts of large urban centers. According to the record maintained by the government, 65,000 Afghan nationals are registered as refugees in Karachi, though officials believe the number of unregistered Afghans may run into tens of thousands.
Last year in September, police arrested and deported a large number of Afghan nationals who entered the country after the fall of Kabul as the US-led forces were departing from Afghanistan.
“The number of arrested Afghan nationals has reached 41, with 15 more arrests in our ongoing combing operation against illegal immigrants,” deputy superintendent police Sohail Faiz said.
Speaking to Arab News earlier in the day, he confirmed the arrest of 26 Afghans, saying they were rounded up “in an operation launched last night, which also continued in the morning, since they were illegally residing in the city.”
Faiz said the operation was conducted after the law enforcement agency got information about the presence of illegal immigrants in large numbers.
“The operation will continue, though action against illegal immigrants is a routine task carried out by the police in Sohrab Goth,” Faiz added while mentioning the area where Afghan refugees and other illegal immigrants mostly reside.
Pakistani social media users recently called for sending Afghan nationals back to their country after a fight broke out between cricket fans belonging to the two countries following a crucial T20 match between them in the United Arab Emirates.
“Such action is required by law which prohibits the stay of illegal nationals in the country,” the police official said. “No country can allow illegal entry and stay of foreigners.”
Faiz maintained some illegal immigrants were also involved in criminal activities.
“During the Sohrab Goth riots in July, we rounded up 170 illegal Afghan nationals since most of them were found involved in turning a peaceful protest into a violent demonstration,” he added.