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Illegal foreigners 'seriously affected' Pakistan’s security, economy: Gen Asim Munir

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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Illegal foreigners 'seriously affected' Pakistan’s security, economy: Gen Asim Munir

The War on Illegal Foreigners

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The term 'illegal foreigners' refers to individuals residing in a country without the required legal documentation. According to multiple major media outlets, the presence of such people in Pakistan is deemed by many, including Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir, as a significant threat to the nation's economy and security. The general, during a visit to Peshawar, suggested that the decision to repatriate these individuals was in the country's best interest.

The Security and Economic Stakes

Security and economic stability are regarded as top priorities for any state, and the presence of illegal residents can impact both. In the context of Pakistan, these foreigners are believed to play a role in the ongoing terror attacks and other violent incidences, especially in the regions bordering Afghanistan. Economy-wise, it is argued that these consequences can lead to budgetary strains owing to an increased demand for resources to stabilize the security situation.

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Moving Towards Repatriation

The latest reports indicate that the process to repatriate these illegal foreigners, majorly undocumented Afghan migrants, is already in motion. Data suggests that up till this point, approximately 255,029 undocumented residents have returned to Afghanistan from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) region alone, via various border points. Many join the thousands of documented Afghan migrants who have opted to return to their homeland at their own accord, or have been repatriated in initiatives by the Pakistani authorities.

Illegal Migration and The Counter-Terrorism Framework

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The repatriation efforts align with Pakistan's broader counter-terrorism operations. The surge of terror attacks in recent times, particularly in provinces such as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, has called for a more assertive strategy towards illegal migration. This strategy aims to not only minimize the likelihood of external attacks but also to deter the propagation of local militancy that could potentially be fuelled or assisted by these illegal foreigners.

Respect for International Norms

Respect for human dignity and rights remain paramount, even in the face of such security and economic challenges. General Asim expressed this sentiment, asserting that these individuals will be sent back to their countries in a "humane and dignified manner" that is in accordance with international protocols. This highlights the intention to balance the need for national security and economic stability with the obligation to uphold globally recognized human rights.

The Bigger Picture

While the deliberation to repatriate illegal foreigners remains crucial in combating security threats, it is also important to acknowledge that this issue forms a small fragment in a larger counter-terrorism and economic restructuring framework that the country is working on. It is a demonstration of the nuanced approach being employed– but as with any approach dealing with human lives, it calls for a careful balance between enforcing the law and respecting the rights and dignity of people.

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