Pak launches crackdown against illegal foreigners in aftermath of Aaron’s arrest

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

ISLAMABAD - A nationwide crackdown has been launched against foreign citizens living illegally in Pakistan in the aftermath of the arrest of US national Aaron Mark DeHaven on ‘illegal stay’ charges.

As part of this crackdown, Aaron was arrested in Peshawar for overstaying his visa validity period and sent to jail on a 14-day judicial remand last Saturday, and a court headed by a Magistrate in Peshawar rejected his bail application on Monday.

Aaron’s visa had expired on October 23 last year, but he kept on staying in Pakistan without a valid visa document. He was aware that his visa had expired and has admitted that it was a mistake not to get it renewed.

The government has been concerned in recent weeks by the presence of foreign citizens in Pakistan, particularly following the January 27 shootings in Lahore by suspected CIA operative Raymond Davis, in which two Pakistani men were killed.

The Interior Ministry has issued directives to the law enforcement agencies to find and deport any foreign citizen staying in the country illegally, The Express Tribune reports.

The law enforcement agencies have begun investigating the presence of foreign citizens residing in the country illegally, and the information they have received so far suggests that a large number of people are living in Lahore and its proximity without proper documentation, though the precise number of illegal residents is unknown at this point.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) conducted a raid in Macca Colony in the Gulberg area of Lahore in which it caught 28 foreign citizens- mostly Nigerians but also including one American- who were living in the country illegally. All 28 foreigners were presented before a magistrate in Lahore, who ordered them to be kept under detention pending further legal hearings regarding their deportation.

They have been taken into custody by the FIA, which has charged them for violating the Foreigners Act of 1946. Under the law, the penalty for overstaying visas can stretch up to five years in prison and a fine. Entering the country illegally carries a penalty of up to ten years in prison and a fine of Rs100,000.

But these penalties are rarely pursued, and even in this case, the government is expected to coordinate with the US and the Nigerian governments to arrange for a quick deportation. (ANI)

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