Pakistan ordered all undocumented immigrants to leave the country or face deportation after investigations found that more than half of suicide bombings in the country this year were carried out by foreign nationals.
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar approved the plan Tuesday at a high-level meeting of his top civilian and military officials in Islamabad.
“All illegal immigrants residing in Pakistan have until November 1 to return to their countries voluntarily,” Interior Minister Sarfaraz Bugti said during a post-meeting news conference. “And if they fail to leave by the deadline, all our state law enforcement agencies will unleash an operation with full-throttle to deport them.”
According to Reuters, the undocumented migrants include 1.73 million Afghan nationals. There are some 4.4 million Afghan refugees in the country. as Pakistan has taken them in high numbers ever since the Soviet invasion of Kabul in 1979.
“There are no two opinions that we are attacked from within Afghanistan and Afghan nationals are involved in attacks on us,” Bugti said. “We have evidence that Afghans were involved in these attacks and are taking up the issue through our foreign ministry with Taliban authorities in Afghanistan.”
Per officials, 14 of 24 suicide bombings in the country this year were carried out by Afghan nationals. At least two bombings occurred during religious gatherings last week, killing at least 57 people.
The announcement to deport nationals who refuse to voluntarily leave comes as relations between Kabul and Islamabad have been steadily deteriorating, with border clashes increasing drastically in the last month.
Per Bugti, Afghans may enter Pakistan only with a valid passport and visa as of Nov. 1.
According to VOA News, the “one document regime” will replace the system that allows for permits to be given to individuals with divided tribes between the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
International organizations like the United Nations and Amnesty International have expressed concern over the increasingly hard line from Islamabad, with some experts fearing it will make deteriorating relations worse.