‘We go out like thieves’: Afghan refugees face crackdown against ‘illegal’ immigrants in Karachi

Special ‘We go out like thieves’: Afghan refugees face crackdown against ‘illegal’ immigrants in Karachi
A man walks past as children play in a street in the Al-Asif Square neighborhood, mostly populated with Afghan refugees, on the outskirts of Karachi on September 20, 2023. (AN Photo)
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Updated 21 September 2023
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‘We go out like thieves’: Afghan refugees face crackdown against ‘illegal’ immigrants in Karachi

‘We go out like thieves’: Afghan refugees face crackdown against ‘illegal’ immigrants in Karachi
  • Afghan envoy in Karachi says over 900 arrested since crackdown on Sept. 9
  • Afghan refugees say police take bribes, refuse to acknowledge legal documents

KARACHI: Nazia Saif, an Afghan refugee residing in a small apartment in Karachi’s busy Al-Asif Square area, is concerned with what the future holds for her after police arrested her husband, a daily wager, last Monday on charges of being an illegal Afghan immigrant. With her husband gone and a family to feed, Saif wonders who will put food on the table for them.

Pakistan launched a crackdown against illegal immigrants in the country on Saturday, Sept. 9. Police rounded up hundreds of Afghan citizens in Pakistan’s financial hub Karachi, accusing them of being illegal immigrants in the country. Last Friday, Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar said Pakistan would repatriate all illegal Afghan immigrants to curb smuggling of goods and foreign currency.

Pakistan first opened its borders to Afghan refugees in the 1980s after the beginning of a US-sponsored and Pakistan-backed ‘Afghan jihad’ to counter the so-called expansionist designs of the former Soviet Union, becoming the largest refugee-hosting country in the world. As per the UN, over 4.4 million Afghan refugees have returned to their homeland since 2002 under a UNHCR-assisted voluntary repatriation program, but around 1.4 million still live in refugee camps, villages and urban centers across Pakistan.

“My husband used to work hard to feed his children. Now, when they arrested him, what will we do?” Saif, 28, told Arab News, adding that Saif-Ud-Din possessed Proof of Registration (PoR) Card, which entitles Afghan immigrants to legally stay in Pakistan.

“This is not how the law works, it has some rules.”




Nazia Saif, 28, an Afghan refugee residing in the Al-Asif Square neighborhood, gestures with her children during an interview with Arab News in Karachi on September 20, 2023. (AN Photo)

Saif-Ud-Din, 32, was selling fries at a roadside stall when police arrested him on Sept.11. Afghan Consul General in Karachi, Syed Abdul Jabbar, said over 900 individuals have been arrested since Sept. 9 when the crackdown began. Two hundred individuals have since then been released, he said.

“More than 900 have been arrested and the crackdown still goes on and the police continues to harass Afghan refugees with legal documents,” Jabbar told Arab News.

Arab News reached out to the Sindh Chief Minister’s office, the Inspector-General of Police and Karachi police chief to comment on the allegations but did not receive a response. Pakistani police authorities have in the past rejected allegations they harass Afghan immigrants legally entitled to stay in Pakistan.

Karachi police spokesperson Rehan Khan confirmed to Independent Urdu on Tuesday police had initiated a crackdown against illegal Afghan immigrants since Sept. 9. He said police had arrested a total of 545 illegal Afghan immigrants from Sept. 9-14.

Hajji Abdullah, the head of the Afghan refugees in Sindh, said he had data that indicated that 1,200 people had been transferred to jails since Sept. 9 while 3,800 secured their release after allegedly paying bribes to police.




A group of Afghan refugees, residing in the Al-Asif Square neighborhood, carry Proof of Registration cards on camera during an interview with Arab News in Karachi on September 20, 2023. (AN Photo)

Hailing from Kunduz in Afghanistan, most of Saif’s family members, including her brother Ihsan Khan, were born in Pakistan. Khan is also among the Afghan refugees who were arrested in the crackdown.

“He [Khan] was arrested just a day earlier as well, and they took his Rs1,000 ($3.39) wage and destroyed the photocopy of his card,” Saif lamented, as her mother chimed in, saying that the arrests had devastated the family.

“Who will take care of the household needs? Who will arrange the food, as my son is in jail,” she asked.

In the wake of these arrests, the family prohibited Salahuddin, Saif-ud-Din’s younger brother, from venturing outside. Salahuddin has been confined to his home for the past nine years.

“When I went to the market today to buy fruit, a policeman took Rs7,000 [$23.75] from me,” Salahuddin, 20, told Arab News. “He threatened me, saying that if I didn’t give him the money, he would take me to Gulshan-e-Maymar’s jungle and kill me in an encounter.”

Naqeebullah Khan, another refugee, said Afghans felt compelled to either stay indoors or, if they must go out, take their young children along as a form of protection against police.

“When we go out, we have to make our little child sit on the motorcycle, as if he is our passport and ID card,” he said. “We do have the cards, but they don’t work in front of the police. We go out on roads like thieves.”

This dire situation, as described by Abdullah, has restrained Afghans to their homes, with people unable to conduct business or earn daily wages to support their families.

“For the last 12 days, Afghan homes have turned into prisons,” Abdullah said.


Rohit says India-Pakistan Test cricket would be ‘awesome’

Rohit says India-Pakistan Test cricket would be ‘awesome’
Updated 14 sec ago
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Rohit says India-Pakistan Test cricket would be ‘awesome’

Rohit says India-Pakistan Test cricket would be ‘awesome’
  • South Asian neighbors are bitter political adversaries, have not faced off in Test since 2007
  • They play only occasionally in shorter versions of game usually on neutral territory 

NEW DELHI: India captain Rohit Sharma has thrown his support behind any resumption of Test cricket against arch-rivals Pakistan, saying it would be “awesome.”
The South Asian neighbors are bitter political adversaries and have fought three wars against each other since they were partitioned at the end of British colonial rule in 1947.
Their cricket teams have not faced off in a Test since 2007. Instead they play only occasionally in the shorter versions of the game and usually on neutral territory in international tournaments.
Rohit appeared Thursday on a YouTube chat show hosted by former captains Adam Gilchrist of Australia and Michael Vaughan of England.
Asked by Vaughan if playing Pakistan in a Test series would be beneficial for the five-day game, Rohit said: “I totally believe that.”
“They are a good team, superb bowling line-up, good contest. Especially if you play in overseas conditions, that will be awesome,” added the 36-year-old.
“I would love to. It would be a great contest between two sides... so why not?“
Australia has said it would be prepared to host a series between the rivals.
India and Pakistan have not faced each other on either side’s soil in a bilateral series since 2012.
India last year refused to travel to Pakistan for the white-ball Asia Cup, prompting part of the tournament to be staged in Sri Lanka.
They last met at the 50-over World Cup in India in October.


Pakistan aims to agree outline of new IMF loan in May — finance minister

Pakistan aims to agree outline of new IMF loan in May — finance minister
Updated 7 min 35 sec ago
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Pakistan aims to agree outline of new IMF loan in May — finance minister

Pakistan aims to agree outline of new IMF loan in May — finance minister
  • Current $3 billion arrangement with IMF runs out in late April 
  • Pakistan is seeking longer and bigger loan of at least $6 billion

WASHINGTON: Pakistan hopes to agree the contours of a new International Monetary Fund loan in May, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb told Reuters, and has kicked off talks with ratings agencies to lay the groundwork for a return to international debt markets.
The country’s current $3 billion arrangement with the fund runs out in late April and the government is seeking a longer and bigger loan to help bring permanence to macroeconomic stability as well as an umbrella under which the country can execute much needed structural reforms, the minister said.
“We expect the IMF mission to be in Islamabad around the middle of May — and that is when some of these contours will start developing,” said Aurangzeb, who met with the Fund’s Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Wednesday during the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Spring Meetings.
He declined to outline what size program the government hoped to secure, though Pakistan is expected to seek at least $6 billion. Aurangzeb added that once the IMF loan was agreed, Pakistan would also request additional financing from the Fund under the Resilience and Sustainability Trust.
The struggling South Asian nation had managed to accumulate foreign exchange reserves in recent months and was on track for its war chest to hit $10 billion — or roughly two months import cover — by end-June.
The debt situation also looked more benign, Aurangzeb said.
“The bulk of our bilateral debt — including our China debt — is being rolled over, so in that sense I think we are in good shape and I don’t see a big issue during this fiscal year nor next fiscal year, cause we need to repay roughly $25 billion dollars every fiscal year.”
Pakistan also hopes to come back to international capital markets, possibly with a green bond. However, there was some more work to be done before that happens, said Aurangzeb.
“We have to come back into a certain ratings environment,” he said, having kicked off talks with ratings agencies, adding the government was hoping to get an improvement in its sovereign rating in the next fiscal year.
“In all likelihood, any international capital markets issuance will likely be in the 2025/2026 fiscal year.”


Five Japanese workers narrowly escape suicide bombing in Karachi 

Five Japanese workers narrowly escape suicide bombing in Karachi 
Updated 49 min 30 sec ago
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Five Japanese workers narrowly escape suicide bombing in Karachi 

Five Japanese workers narrowly escape suicide bombing in Karachi 
  • Van attacked while heading to industrial area where five Japanese nationals worked at Pakistan Suzuki Motors
  • Insurgents have recently targeted Chinese working on projects relating to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

KARACHI: Five Japanese workers narrowly escaped on Friday after a suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden vest near the van carrying them to their workplace, police said.
The Hiace van was on its way to an industrial area where the five Japanese nationals worked at Pakistan Suzuki Motors, according to local police chief Arshad Awan.
Police escorting the vehicle returned fire after coming under attack, killing an accomplice of the suicide bomber whose remains were found from the scene of the attack, he added. Three bystanders were wounded. 
“All the Japanese who were the target of the attack are safe,” Awan told media. 
Television footage on local news channels widely showed a damaged van, as police officers arrived at the scene of the attack. Awan said the three passersby who were wounded in the attack were in stable condition at a hospital.
Police were escorting the van after receiving reports about possible attacks on foreigners who are working in Pakistan on various Chinese-funded and other projects, said Tariq Mastoi, a senior police officer. He said a timely and quick response from the guards and police foiled the attack and both attackers were killed.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the incident, according to a statement posted on X.
“Timely action by the police saved us from any major loss of life,” he said. “We will not rest until terrorism has been completely eradicated. We will thwart every nefarious act of disturbing the law and order situation.”
Murad Ali Shah, the chief minister of Sindh, of which Karachi is the provincial capital, directed the inspector general to submit a report after investigating the attack, including details on who the attackers were, where they came from, any information on their facilitators and details of explosives used in the blast.
He directed that immediate arrangements be made for the security of all foreigners in the province. 
“Anti-national elements want to disrupt law and order, which will not be allowed at any cost,” the CM said, praising what he called timely action of the police in thwarting the attack.
No one immediately claimed responsibility, but suspicion is likely to fall on a small separatist group or the Pakistani Taliban who have stepped up attacks on security forces.
In recent weeks, insurgents have also targeted Chinese who are working in Pakistan on projects relating to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which includes a multitude of megaprojects such as road construction, power plants and agriculture.
In March, five Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver were killed when a suicide bomber in northwest Pakistan rammed his explosive-laden car into a vehicle when they were heading to the Dasu Dam, the biggest hydropower project in Pakistan, where they worked.
However, Japanese working in Pakistan have not been the target of any such attacks.
With inputs from AP


Saudi deputy defense minister discusses security cooperation proposals with Pakistan army chief

Saudi deputy defense minister discusses security cooperation proposals with Pakistan army chief
Updated 19 April 2024
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Saudi deputy defense minister discusses security cooperation proposals with Pakistan army chief

Saudi deputy defense minister discusses security cooperation proposals with Pakistan army chief
  • Al-Otaibi arrived in Pakistan earlier this week to finalize defense-related bilateral projects
  • Saudi official participates in the Fifth Meeting of Pakistan-KSA Defense Collaboration

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Assistant Defense Minister Talal Bin Abdullah Bin Turki Al-Otaibi called on Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Gen Syed Asim Munir on Friday and discussed defense collaboration projects, the Pakistani military said on Friday. 
Al-Otaibi arrived in Pakistan earlier this week to finalize defense-related bilateral projects, according to the Pakistani defense ministry. His visit follows on the heels of a two-day visit to Islamabad by Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, aimed at enhancing bilateral economic cooperation and pushing forward previously agreed investment deals. Pakistan has said it pitched investment projects worth$30 billion to Riyadh during Prince Faisal’s visit.
“During the meeting, matters of mutual interest and measures to further enhance bilateral defense collaboration including defense production and military training were discussed,” the Pakistan army statement said. 
“COAS affirmed Pakistan Army’s continuing support toward capacity building of Royal Saudi Land Forces.
“Both sides reiterated their resolve to solidify the efforts in defense collaboration with focused approach to target specific capabilities in land, air and sea domains. In this context, concrete proposals were deliberated by the forum to meet tangible objectives within specific timelines.”

In this handout photo, taken and released by Pakistan’s Inter-Service Public Relations on April 19, 2024, Saudi Assistant Defense Minister Talal Bin Abdullah Bin Turki Al-Otaibi attends Pakistan-KSA Defense Collaboration meeting, co-chaired by Chief of General Staff Pakistan Army, during his visit to the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. (Photo courtesy: ISPR)

Al-Otaibi also participated in the Fifth Meeting of Pakistan-KSA Defense Collaboration at the Pakistan army’s headquarters in Rawalpindi. 
The forum discussed challenges to global and regional security and noted that rapid advancements in modern technologies “necessitated defense industrial cooperation in critical capabilities between the two brotherly countries.”
“The visiting dignitary acknowledged Pakistan Army’s achievements and sacrifices in war against terrorism and Army’s valuable contributions toward regional peace and stability,” the army’s statement said. 
Pakistan maintains close military ties with Saudi Arabia, providing extensive support, arms, and training to the Saudi armed forces. 
Since the 1970s, Pakistani soldiers have been stationed in Saudi Arabia to protect the Kingdom and Pakistan has also been providing training to Saudi soldiers and pilots. The two nations also regularly carry out multidimensional joint ventures and defense exercises.


Five Japanese workers narrowly escape suicide bombing that targeted their vehicle in Pakistan

Five Japanese workers narrowly escape suicide bombing that targeted their vehicle in Pakistan
Updated 19 April 2024
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Five Japanese workers narrowly escape suicide bombing that targeted their vehicle in Pakistan

Five Japanese workers narrowly escape suicide bombing that targeted their vehicle in Pakistan
  • Van had been heading to an industrial area where the five Japanese nationals worked at Pakistan Suzuki Motors
  • Insurgents have also targeted Chinese working on Pakistan on projects relating to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

KARACHI: A suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden vest near a van carrying Japanese autoworkers, who narrowly escaped the attack Friday that wounded three bystanders in Pakistan’s port city of Karachi, police said.
The van had been heading to an industrial area where the five Japanese nationals worked at Pakistan Suzuki Motors, local police chief Arshad Awan said. He said police escorting the Japanese returned fire after coming under attack, killing an accomplice of the suicide bomber whose remains were found from the scene of the attack.
“All the Japanese who were the target of the attack are safe,” he said.
Images on local news channels showed a damaged van, as police officers arrived at the scene of the attack. Awan said the three passersby who were wounded in the attack were in stable condition at a hospital.
Police were escorting the van after receiving reports about possible attacks on foreigners who are working in Pakistan on various Chinese-funded and other projects, said Tariq Mastoi, a senior police officer. He said a timely and quick response from the guards and police foiled the attack and both attackers were killed.
No one immediately claimed responsibility, but suspicion is likely to fall on a small separatist group or Pakistani Taliban who have stepped up attacks on security forces in recent years. Insurgents have also targeted Chinese who are working on Pakistan on projects relating to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which includes a multitude of megaprojects such as road construction, power plants and agriculture.
In March, five Chinese and their Pakistani driver were killed when a suicide bomber in northwest Pakistan rammed his explosive-laden car into a vehicle when they were heading to the Dasu Dam, the biggest hydropower project in Pakistan, where they worked.
However, Japanese working in Pakistan have not been target of any such attacks.
Karachi is the largest city of Pakistan and the capital of southern Sindh province.