Immigration to Pakistan
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Immigration to Pakistan refers to the settlement of foreign nationals in Pakistan. Immigration policy is overseen by the Interior Minister of Pakistan through the Directorate General Passports. Most immigrants are not eligible for citizenship or permanent residency, unless they are married to a Pakistani citizen or a Commonwealth citizen who has invested a minimum of PKR 5 million in the local economy.
Based on the United Nations report World Population Policies 2005, the total immigrant population in Pakistan was estimated to be 3,254,000, representing 2.1% of the national population, and ranked 13th in the world. According to the United Nations report International Migration Profiles 2002, the population of immigrants in Pakistan was 1,098,110 in 1990 and 1,412,560 in 2000. The Express Tribune reported in January 2012 that there were 5 million illegal immigrants in Pakistan. Around 2 million were Bangladeshis, 2.5 million were Afghans and the other 0.5 million were from various other areas such as Myanmar, Iraq and Africa. However, the number of Afghan immigrants was reduced to 1.4 million due to UNHCR repatriation.
As of 2009, 2.1% of the population of Pakistan had foreign origins. However, the number of immigrants population in Pakistan recently grew sharply. Immigrants from South Asia make up a growing proportion of immigrants in Pakistan. The largest immigrant group in Pakistan is Bangladeshis, followed by Afghans, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Turkmens, Indians, Sri Lankan, Burmese and Britons including a sizeable number of those of Pakistani origin. Other expatriate communities in Pakistan are Armenians, Australians, Iranians, Turks, Iraqis, Chinese, Americans, previously Bosnian refugees, and many others. Migrants from different countries of Arab world, especially Egypt, Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Kuwait, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, are in the thousands. Nearly all illegal migrants in Pakistan are Muslim refugees and they are accepted by the local population. There is no political support or legislation to deport these refugees from Pakistan.
Shaikh Muhammad Feroze, the chairman of the Pakistani Bengali Action Committee, claimed that there were 200 settlements of Bengali-speaking people in Pakistan, of which 132 are in Karachi. They are found in various areas of Pakistan such as Thatta, Badin, Hyderabad, Tando Adam and Lahore.
Experts say that the migration of both Bengalis and Burmese (Rohingya) to Pakistan started in the 1980s and continued until 1998. Large scale Rohingya migration to Karachi made Karachi one of the largest population centres of Rohingyas in the world after Myanmar. The Burmese community of Karachi is spread out over 60 slums in Karachi such as the Burmi Colony in Korangi, Arakanabad, Machchar colony, Bilal colony, Ziaul Haq Colony and Godhra Camp.
Thousands of Uyghur Muslims have also migrated to the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan, fleeing religious and cultural persecution in Xinjiang, China.
Refugees and asylum seekers
As of 2017, approximately 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees still remain in Pakistan. They are expected to leave Pakistan and return to Afghanistan in the coming years. They are mainly found in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) areas, with small numbers in the cities of Karachi and Quetta. Most of this group were born inside Pakistan in the last 30 years and are ethnic Pakhtuns. In addition, about 500 Somalis, 60–80 Iraqi and 20–30 Iranian asylum seekers were reported to be temporarily residing in cities such as Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Karachi. Nearly all of these are asylum seekers waiting to immigrate to Australia, North America, and the European Union. They only stay in Pakistan as visitors because by international law they cannot apply for asylum in the countries that they escaped from.
|Type of population||Total in Pakistan who are assisted by UNHCR |
In 2012, a Pakistani official claimed that five million illegal immigrants live in Pakistan. Since early 2002, Pakistan's government took steps to determine the number of illegal immigrantsin its country. The National Alien Registration Authority (NARA) started registering illegal immigrantsin January 2006. According to NARA, there were an estimated 1.8 million illegal immigrantsin Pakistan's commercial capital Karachi in 2007. Others believe that there may be about 3.35 million illegal immigrants in Pakistan. As of January 2010, the number of illegal alimmigrantsiens in Karachi was estimated to be between 1.6 and 2 million. Thousands of nationals from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Burma, Sri Lanka, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, Jordan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Azerbaijan are illegally living in Karachi. This includes thousands of Muslim students from Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia studying in the Pakistani madrasahs, while thousands of women from Bangladesh and Burma are working as maids and prostitutes there; most of them are illegal aliens.
|Wikinews has related news: 46 illegal Afghan immigrants suffocate in truck in Pakistan|
According to some sources, thousands of radicals of Arab origin who entered the country illegally to fight in Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion in 1979, and later against the US-led invasion in October 2001, still remain in the country.
Although the presence of illegal aliens in Pakistan is against the law, the Government of Pakistan did not make a serious effort to deport them until January 2010 when Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik asked illegal aliens to either leave or register themselves with the department concerned, as a major crackdown would soon be initiated against them. This action was taken following the recent bomb attack and targeted killings of political activists in the city, against foreign militants operating in Pakistan.
According to NARA, there are foreign nationals from over 76 countries, mostly from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Tajikistan, India and Burma illegally living and working in the country as laborers involved in construction businesses and others which require unskilled manpower, whilst most of the illegal immigrants are those who intend to use Pakistan as a transit country in order to immigrate to Western countries.
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ISLAMABAD: Around five million illegal immigrants have been residing in different cities of Pakistan for more than three decades. The illegal immigrants, around two million Bangladeshis, 2.5 million Afghanis and 0.5 million other nationals including Africans, Iranians, Iraqis and Myanmars, are currently living in Quetta, Peshawar, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi and other cities, an official said on Monday. Regarding steps taken to control the flow of illegal immigration in the country, the official said that the Anti-Trafficking Units at Provincial Police Headquarters have been established to combat internal human trafficking while Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) has also been established.
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Shaikh Muhammad Feroze, the chairman of the committee, said during a press conference on Friday that political parties and the government should acknowledge the sacrifices of their ancestors. 'We live in Sindh and feel proud to be called Sindhis rather than Bengalis. We appeal to Sindhi nationalists and Sindhis to help us in our struggle,' he added. He said that Bengali-speaking people were not given educational rights as they did not possess national identity cards. 'Our children can’t get an education after matriculation because colleges ask for the identity cards but the National Database Registration Authority has never accepted us as Pakistani citizens.' Shaikh said that over three million Bengalis and Biharis were grateful to the government for accepting them as Pakistani citizens. 'We postponed a hunger strike planned for March 25 after the government made decisions,' he added. 'We can go on a hunger strike, if our rights are not given.' He claimed that there were 200 settlements of Bengali-speaking people across the country, including 132 in Karachi. They populate different parts of Pakistan, including Thatta, Badin, Hyderabad, Tando Adam and Lahore.
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Their large-scale migration had made Karachi one of the largest Rohingya population centres outside Myanmar but afterwards the situation started turning against them.
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Insa is one of a few thousand Uighur Muslims who live in Gilgit. The community is a mix of generations. Some left Xinjiang and the thriving trading town of Kashgar in 1949, while others are later arrivals. Map showing Kashgar and Gilgit. All say they were forced to leave as they were the victims of cultural and religious oppression in China.
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