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09.08.2004 Diaspora News

Pakistan crackdown on illegal African immigrants

By dailytimes

* 150 foreigners arrested for overstaying, says home secretary

LAHORE: City police have conducted several raids at hotels, hostels and other private residences around the Lahore Railway Station to arrest illegal immigrants, especially Africans from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Angola.

The sources said that police had registered cases under Section 14 of the Foreign Act of Pakistan of 1926 against several Africans arrested in the Railway Station, Mozang and Civil Lines areas. They said that approximately 1,000 Africans were living in these areas. The authorities had sent more than 200 Africans to their embassies for deportation. They said that the Africans who were found involved in criminal activities like drugs smuggling would be dealt with according to the law.

The sources said that the Interior Ministry had directed the law enforcement and intelligence agencies to launch an operation to deport thousands of aliens from Afghanistan, Nigeria, Kenya, Angola, Tanzania and Ghana who had no proper travelling documents and immigration papers.

They claimed that around 150,000 Afghans and more than 7,000 Africans had settled in Lahore. They said that many Afghans were involved in robberies, murders and weapons and drugs smuggling. The sources claimed that the law enforcement agencies believed that several terrorists who trained in Afghanistan had hidden in Pakistan pretending to be Afghan refugees. The city police arrested several Africans for overstaying in Pakistan in a crackdown a few months ago.The sources said that a clerk in the foreign branch of the police department, Muhammad Safdar, was arrested a few days ago for issuing fake permits to Africans.

Punjab Home Secretary Hassan Waseem Afzal told Daily Times that 150 foreigners had been arrested in Lahore for overstaying. He said that most of the arrested people were from African countries and none had links with Al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups. Mr Afzal said that the action had not been taken on directions from foreign agencies. “No foreign agency is involved in the action. Pakistan is a sovereign state and nobody can dictate to us,” he said, adding that Pakistan's law enforcement agencies shared intelligence with other countries.

The home secretary said that the arrested foreigners were being questioned after which they would be sent to their countries. He said that the crackdown on illegal immigrants and overstaying foreigners would continue. Mr Afzal said that the crackdown on the foreigners was initiated because several foreign terrorists were hiding in the disguise of students and refugees.

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