Balochistan has become a focal point for immigration and evacuation, with a multitude of voluntary migrants reaching border crossing points. The looming deadline of October 31 underscores the urgency of the situation. As of now, 25,000 migrants have voluntarily returned to Afghanistan through the Chaman border.
To manage the returnees, the authorities have set up two holding centers in Quetta, Haji Camp with 300 beds and PCSIR with 500 beds. These facilities are essential to provide temporary accommodations and process the returning individuals.
The situation in Balochistan concerning immigration and evacuation is complex and multifaceted. The need for timely evacuation is pressing, but it must be approached with a balanced perspective that takes into account the diverse demographic makeup of the immigrant population and the importance of international travel documentation. A collaborative effort between government authorities, UNHCR, and other stakeholders is crucial to address these challenges effectively and ensure the safety and well-being of those affected by this situation. Balochistan’s handling of this issue will serve as a test case for managing immigration and evacuation in regions facing similar crises around the world.
Balochistan, a province in southwestern Pakistan, is facing a significant influx of migrants and the need for the evacuation of foreigners in the region. The situation is pressing, with a strict deadline of October 31 for evacuation, followed by potential actions commencing on November 1. In this comprehensive editorial, we will examine the developments and challenges surrounding the evacuation and immigration process in Balochistan, focusing on the necessity of passports and the complex demographic makeup of the immigrant population.
In an effort to streamline the process, the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has installed an Automated Verification System (AVS) for biometric verification. This technology will help verify the identity of individuals, ensuring that the right people are allowed to cross the border. However, there has been some disagreement over the requirement of a passport for the evacuation process.
It is crucial to emphasize that a passport serves as a vital identity document universally recognized for international travel. Without a passport, entry and exit from any airport or border crossing in the world are typically not permitted. Therefore, insisting on the need for a passport is a reasonable requirement to ensure the orderly movement of people and to prevent any potential security risks.
The immigration issue in Balochistan is further compounded by the complex demographic makeup of the immigrant population. According to UNHCR data, there are 329,631 registered Afghan refugees living in Balochistan. These refugees represent a portion of the immigrant population, with a significant number having arrived in the aftermath of the Cold War, internal instability in Afghanistan, and the events of 9/11. Balochistan has become a refuge for a diverse group of people, including Uzbeks, Tajiks, Kandaharis, and speakers of Dari, Persian, and Pashto.
The immigrants have not only settled in the border region but have also integrated into various sectors of the Balochistan economy. They have contributed to mining, labor, bakery, and fruit businesses and have even invested in significant enterprises in the province. Beyond the official refugee status, many have obtained Computerized National Identity Cards (CNIC) and local certificates due to their ties to local tribes.
Balochistan’s immigration and evacuation situation is multifaceted and poses several challenges. Ensuring the safe and orderly return of Afghan immigrants is a top priority, but it must be balanced with the recognition of the complexity of the issue. The Pakistani government, UNHCR, and relevant international organizations should work together to address these challenges. Firstly, the authorities must ensure that the evacuation process is conducted smoothly and without any unnecessary delays. The installation of biometric verification technology is a positive step in this direction. Secondly, the government should consider providing a clear pathway for immigrants who have integrated into local communities and businesses. This can involve regularizing their status and providing opportunities for legal residence, which would be in line with international refugee laws and human rights principles.