Pakistan fears that the working conditions for its nationals living abroad could become starker and harsher in the aftermath of the execution-style killings of 132 Parisians by Islamic State terrorists.
The Paris massacre has already triggered a xenophobic and anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe with far-right groups stepping up their campaigns against the influx of refugees from Muslim countries.
According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), more than 750,000 migrants are estimated to have arrived in Europe by sea so far this year. Syrians top the list of people seeking asylum in Europe, followed by Afghans, Kosovars, Iraqis, Albanians and Pakistanis.
“The recent terror attacks [in France] will increase hard times for Pakistani nationals. We should formulate a specific policy and strategy to handle this crisis,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said in a statement on Sunday. “These incidents of terrorism will increase difficulties for Pakistanis living in foreign countries.”
The interior minister will also convene an important meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) to discuss “how Pakistan could handle the situation emerging in the aftermath of the Paris attack”, an interior ministry official told The Express Tribune.
Foreign ministry officials are likely to attend the meeting where the interior minister is to prepare his recommendations which will subsequently be submitted to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for implementation, he added.
The ministries of foreign affairs and interior should formulate a policy and strategy to help the Pakistanis facing discriminatory behaviour abroad, Nisar said in the statement. “It is our responsibility to safeguard our citizens no matter where they are. Overseas Pakistanis are our asset,” he added.
The interior minister also directed the Federal Investigation Agency to come up with a strategy against human smugglers who are bringing a bad name for Pakistan. “After terrorists, human smugglers are a stigma on the face of humanity,” he said. “The FIA has to speed up its efforts to net all these human smugglers and prepare a strategy to deal with this issue.”
Currently, Pakistan is among Tier-II countries in the Trafficking in Persons Report. And it might slide to Tier-III, if it fails to control human smuggling in near future. Tier-III countries could face international travel restrictions. “What will happen, if Pakistan fails to control human smugglers? We must control this curse,” the interior minister said in a recent meeting of FIA officials.
As many as 97,000 Pakistanis had recently been deported from over 40 countries for their alleged involvement in various illegal activities, according to officials.
The ultraextremist Middle Eastern terrorist group Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Paris massacre and threatened more such attacks on France. French President Francois Hollande called the attacks as an act of war by Da’ish and vowed a ‘merciless response’.
Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, meanwhile, ruled out the presence of Da’ish on Pakistan’s soil and said the country has the capability to tackle such threats. “The Islamic State is a terrorist organisation and Pakistan is capable of facing such threats. No one in the country will be allowed to have any contact with the outfit,” he told journalists at the annual charity bazaar organised by the Pakistan Foreign Office Women’s Association.
Chaudhry said Pakistan has been a victim of terrorism for so many years and has taken a number of steps to curb terrorism, while giving sacrifices to defeat terrorists. “The menace is now dying in the country due to the effective steps taken by the government,” he said.
He said the Pakistani leadership had shown courage, determination and resilience in the face of terrorism and emphasised the need for collective efforts at the global level in this regard. “The people and the leadership of Pakistan are united to fight terrorism,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2015.
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