Events that started on December 10, 2010 in Tunisia have a direct causal linkage to the refugee crisis that is consuming the Middle East, Turkey, the Balkan states, Greece, all the countries of the Maghrib and the UK. Millions are on the move and the small kingdom of Jordan is close to being overwhelmed. Turkey has taken in two million and the European Union (EU) finds that its open-border policy enshrined in the Schengen Agreement is close to collapse such is the scale of the human crisis. People from Pakistan are in the mix of this vast stream, and not all of them are refugees, with many being economic migrants seeking their fortune and a better life in the EU.
What to do with illegal immigrants has become an issue within an issue. The EU needs to manage the flow as best as it can and has been deporting illegal immigrants to a range of countries and not only Pakistan. Pakistan has in the past protested that some of those it was asked to receive as deportees had not been verified as Pakistani citizens in the first place; and some that had been inappropriately described as having connections to terrorism had themselves been illegally deported by the EU itself. Now, the EU and Pakistan have agreed a set of protocols that satisfy the demands of Pakistan in terms of deportations, a development that has received an endorsement from Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar. This is not the first time that ‘agreement’ over this matter is said to have been reached, and it is to be hoped that the latest agreement is both durable and workable to the satisfaction of all sides because this is a problem that has the potential to get worse rather than better. The EU has now agreed to the verification process proposed by the Interior Ministry in line with the Readmission Accord. It now remains to be seen whether all sides are able to effectively implement what are complex procedures in a timely manner, and a diplomatic ‘incident’ with deportees shuttling to-and-fro, avoided.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 10th, 2016.
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