Pakistan set to launch registry for foreigners in view of developing situation in Afghanistan

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Islamabad, Jul 8 (PTI) Pakistan announced on Thursday that it was launching a system to register all foreigners entering the country, in view of the evolving security situation in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Speaking to the media, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said: 'The interior ministry has decided to register all foreigners [in the country], whosoever they may be.' He said 40,000 to 50,000 unidentified people had entered the country in the last 70 years and there was no record of their whereabouts.

The minister said foreigners residing in Pakistan would be issued special 'alien cards' to help them open bank accounts, start businesses, obtain SIM cards and facilitate their travel and in other legal activities.

Ahmed said the decision to register all foreigners was vital in the wake of the developing security situation in Afghanistan.

The US and NATO troops have nearly completed their withdrawal from the war-torn country, raising the spectre of a strengthened Taliban and local militants. Authorities fear a heavy migration of people from Afghanistan to Pakistan in the coming years.

The interior minister said recently some fraudsters were arrested for allegedly making fake Afghan identity cards.

Ahmed said all visa applications have been converted to online and the visas are issued within 30 days. 'Different security agencies review the online applications and if they don't respond within 30 days, we issue the visas,' he said. PTI SH IND AKJ IND IND

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