Illegal migrants: Deportation deal back on track, says EU official

28-nation bloc to appoint immigration officer to address Pakistan’s concerns


Kamran Yousaf/reuters November 23, 2015
PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD:


The European Union is said to have fixed a deportee deal with Islamabad, as a top official of the 28-nation bloc said on Monday that Pakistan would abide by the treaty and take back citizens deported from mainland Europe.


The EU will also appoint its immigration officer for Pakistan in an effort to address the country’s concerns over deportation of its nationals.

The development came days after Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said Islamabad was suspending the readmission agreement it had signed with the EU in 2009 that allows European nations to repatriate illegal Pakistani immigrants and other nationalities who transited through Pakistan on their way to Europe.

Pakistan suspends deal to accept deportations from Europe

EU Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos met Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar to discuss Pakistan’s concerns on the accord. “We had friendly, frank and positive discussions with the Pakistani interior minister. And I think after the talks today ... everything is back to normal,” Avramopoulos told reporters after the meeting.

His statement implies that Pakistan will restore the readmission deal with the EU after it decided to appoint an immigration officer to be based in Islamabad to deal with the migration problems. However, a statement issued by the interior ministry would not explicitly say if Pakistan has agreed to take back its citizens being deported from Europe under the agreement.

Last week, the interior minister said airlines returning deportees without Pakistan’s permission would be penalised. That raised concerns in Europe as the continent faces its biggest influx of migrants in decades, with a debate about possible security risks from the often unchecked flow of humanity thrown into sharp focus by the Nov 13 attacks in Paris.

According to the interior ministry statement, Nisar made it clear that Pakistan would accept deportees accused of terror charges only if there was ‘clear and solid evidence’ against them. He told the EU commissioner that illegal immigrants must be deported in line with the readmission accord and immigration laws.

Officials said Pakistan and the EU would evolve a ‘clear mechanism’ in order to ensure that deportees were sent back with proper procedure.

Avramopoulos admitted that repatriation of illegal immigrants had to be done in a ‘decent way.’ He said around 2,100 illegal immigrants from Pakistan were ordered to go back in 2014. Of them, around 50% had returned on a voluntary basis, the EU official added.

The EU commissioner dismissed fears in Muslim countries, including Pakistan, that in the wake of the Paris attacks, the West would get tough on Muslims living in Europe.

Pakistan suspends deportation accords

“We must not generalise. Almost all of those who perpetrated the Paris terrorist acts were homegrown. They were born and brought up within Europe,” he argued. “Islam is not the enemy. Islam has contributed in a very considerable way to the global civilisation.”

While conceding that there had been some backlash of the Paris attacks on the Muslims in Europe, Avramopoulos said the scale of the problem was not as such that ‘it should worry us.’ He said European nations had a long tradition of democracy and they would certainly fight all those forces spreading Islamophobia.

An estimated 50,000 Pakistanis travel legally to Europe for work each year. Last year, about 21,000 living there without permission were ordered to return to Pakistan, according to EU statistics.

Migrants from Pakistan, who often pay human smugglers to get to Europe, are given refugee status in less than 20% of cases, compared to about 60% of asylum seekers from war-torn neighbour Afghanistan, EU statistics show.

Pakistan fears hard time for its nationals abroad

Some European leaders are calling for tighter immigration controls over fears of Islamic State infiltration after the Paris attacks, which killed 130 people and wounded about 200.


Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2015.

COMMENTS (3)

Stranger | 6 years ago | Reply LEt them refugees go back to where they belong . no need to house them . once they come they never leave . Look at France .
Ali | 6 years ago | Reply Pakistan needs to work harder so the country can develop both economically and politically. Once this occurs, Pakistanis will no longer need to run off to other countries.
VIEW MORE COMMENTS
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ

E-Publications

Most Read