ISLAMABAD: The interior ministry on Thursday informed the National Assembly that it had deported over 10,000 illegal immigrants from Balochistan, citing serious threats to internal security of the already troubled province.
In a written reply, Interior Minister Rehman Malik informed the lower house of Parliament that 21,407 foreign nationals, who were arrested in the country under the Foreigner Act 1946, were handed over to India, Iran and Afghanistan in the past five years.
According to the ministry, law enforcement agencies have deported over 10,323 prisoners from Balochistan to India, Afghanistan and Iran between the years 2008-2012.
Questioning the move, opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) MNA Shireen Arshad Khan sought details of the number of deportees.
In 2011, over 4,615 illegal immigrants were arrested in Balochistan, for alleged involvement in illegal activities, sources said.
Citing figures from other provinces, the ministry reports that out of 8,550 foreigners, who were detained in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), as many as 2,505 were handed over to India, Afghanistan and Iran in 2011 while 2,216 in 2010.
Similarly, over 2,120 illegal immigrants, who were detained in Sindh, were handed over to these countries, while 414 foreign detainees were deported from Punjab.
According to preliminary findings of Pakistan’s 2011 census, the country’s population had grown by 46.9% between 1998 and 2011, while Balochistan shows the highest increase of approximately 139.3%, the top growth figure witnessed from all of the provinces.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar informed the Senate that as many as 8,698 Pakistani citizens are detained abroad on multiple charges.
According to details issued by the ministry, some 2,373 Pakistanis are languishing in jails of Saudi Arabia, 1,416 in UK prisons, 1,334 in UAE jails, 403 in India, 315 in Afghan jails while 319 in Greece. Over 79 prisoners are also facing trial in Iranian jails accordingly.
Foreign Affairs Minister, however, said consular teams conduct periodical visits to jails and try to resolve the problems being faced by Pakistani nationals in coordination with the local authorities.
To a question, minister of state for foreign affairs said that India has released 387 Pakistani fishermen since March 2008 to September 2012. Pakistan on the other hand has released 1,540 Indian fishermen, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2012.