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 of Immigration & Passports. Most immigrants are not eligible for citizenship or permanent residency, unless they are married to a Pakistani citizen or a Commonwealth citizen who have invested minimum 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 represented 2.1% of national population ranked 13th in the world. According to United Nations report International Migration Profiles 2002, the population of immigrants in Pakistan was 1,098,110 in 1990 and then, 1,412,560 in 2000.
|This section requires expansion. (May 2010)|
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 groups in Pakistan are Afghans, Bangladeshi, 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, Filipinos, Bosnians and many others. Migrants from different countries of Arab world specially Egypt, Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Kuwait, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen are in 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.
Refugees and asylum seekers
As of 2013, approximately 1.7 million registered Afghan refugees still remain in Pakistan. These Afghans fled their native country due to armed conflicts and droughts. They are expected to leave Pakistan and return to Afghanistan in the coming years. In addition, about 500 Somalians, 60-80 Iraqi and 20-30 Iranian immigrants were known to live in urban areas of Pakistan. Nearly all of these are asylum seekers waiting to be resettled in developed countries such as Australia, Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany.
|Type of population||Total in Pakistan whom assisted by UNHCR
|Total in Pakistan whom assisted by UNHCR
Following the September 11 attacks, Pakistan ordered all the provincial governments to take action against illegal aliens who entered the country after 2001, but decided to offer registration only to those immigrants who entered the country before December 2001. The National Alien Registration Authority (NARA) started registering illegal immigrants in the country in January 2006. According to NARA, there were an estimated 1.8 million illegal aliens in 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 aliens in Karachi is estimated to be between 1.6 and 2 million people. Thousands of nationals from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Burma, Sri Lanka, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, Jordan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzistan, Azerbaijan, are illegally living in Karachi. This includes thousands of Muslim students from Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia studying in the Pakistani madrasah while thousands of women from Bangladesh and Burma are working as maids and prostitutes there; most of them are illegal immigrants.
|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 immigrants living in the country to either leave or register themselves with the department concerned, as a major crackdown would soon 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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- Directorate General of Immigration & Passports
- Ministry of Interior, Government of Pakistan
- UNHCR country operations profile - Pakistan