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Single Document Regime: Here’s how Pakistan is changing visa rules for Afghans

ISLAMABAD – The immigration authorities in Pakistan have chalked out a plan to streamline the entry and exit of Afghans through the border crossings of the country.

Under the plan, it has been decided to terminate the British-era system that allows people of Afghanistan and Pakistan to travel without visas.

Sources privy to the development have revealed that the government has decided to implement a “single-document regime” on all international border crossings with Afghanistan.

The current practice is that Afghans can travel to Pakistan without a visa at certain border crossings using “Tazkirah”- a special permit used for decades under the British era easement rights.

The ‘Tazkirah’ was launched to facilitate families and tribes on both sides of the border when Britain demarcated the border known as the Durand Line.

The misuse of the system and entry of people beyond the permitted areas has forced the government to introduce a new regime with tight regulation, Express Tribune reported.

The single document policy is already in place at Torkham border crossing but thousands still use Tazkirah to travel at the Chaman border crossing and sometimes resort to illegal use of the document. 

Pakistanis living close to the border areas also travel across the border using the same documents as many have set up their businesses across the border and travel daily to the neighbouring country.

However, Pakistani authorities have now decided to introduce the single document policy to avoid misuse of the Tazkirah system.

The move coincides with the decision of the government to evict Afghans residing in Pakistan illegally. Under the new policy, all Afghans living in Pakistan illegally would be deported.

In a press conference on Tuesday, the caretaker interior minister Sarfaraz Bugti also announced that the government has set a deadline of November 1 for all illegal immigrants – irrespective of their citizenship – to leave the country or else face deportation.

‘Pakistan is the only country permitting entry of people even without a passport,’ the minister decried.

Sarfraz Bugti said a task force has also been constituted which will look into the matter and take action accordingly against illegal immigrants.

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