ISLAMABAD: Despite country-wide crackdowns against illegal Afghan refugees, Pakistan continues to be the favourite destination for Afghan nationals looking to escape from the war-torn country for a bright future.
A total of 52,144 foreigners were arrested during the past five years by the provincial Special Branch of the police and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and 40,149 foreigners were deported from Pakistan during the same period.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa topped the list where most foreigners were arrested during the period from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2016. As many as 37,386 foreigners were arrested from K-P that constitutes around 72 per cent of the total foreigners taken into custody.
Those figures were shared by the Ministry of Interior during the last session of the National Assembly in response to a question of PML-N MNA Chaudhry Muhammad Shahbaz Babar.
According to the data provided by the ministry, province-wise Punjab stood second in terms of most arrested foreigners with the figure of 4,221, while 4,131 foreigners were arrested from Balochistan during the past five years.
Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) has also not been an exception in this context, as 767 foreigners were also arrested from its territory, while 477 foreigners were arrested from the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) during the same period.
Only 429 foreigners were arrested from Sindh while just 26 foreigners were arrested from Gilgit-Baltistan. Out of the total, the FIA arrested 4,707 foreigners.
It is not surprising that according to the list shared with the lawmakers, the majority of Afghans were deported from Pakistan during the period. A total of 37,279 Afghans were deported from Pakistan which, when calculated, turn out to be 93 per cent of the total figure of foreigners who were deported.
A total of 1,987 Indians were deported from Pakistan during the last five years. Other than India and Afghanistan, the citizens of European and African countries and people belonging to countries of other continents were also deported from Pakistan, although their number is negligible.
A total of 79 Iranians, 324 Bangladeshis, 87 Nigerians, 69 Tanzanians, 33 Yeminis, 25 Zambians, 19 Somalis, 25 South Africans, two each from USA and Australia, five UK nationals and others were arrested and deported from Pakistan during the period in question.
Foreigners are mostly put to trial in Pakistan under the Foreigners Act 1946. A foreigner having no permission to stay in Pakistan, who has been convicted, sentenced to imprisonment under the act shall not be released on the expiry of the sentence and shall continue to remain in custody for a period not exceeding three months to enable arrangements for his deportation to be finalised.
Illegal immigrants have increased manifold in Pakistan which has created numerous socioeconomic problems, negatively impacting the security situation in the country.
The National Aliens Registration Authority (NARA) was not equipped to cope with the situation so in 2015 it was merged with the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to improve the registration of aliens in the country.