Commonality of interest with EU on deportation

WEB DESK: Migration to greener pastures is a universal phenomenon. Among people who migrated to the green pasture of Europe for better life and economic benefit Pakistanis have not been in short supply. Also among them are some of them who asked for, and were given, political asylum.

And quite a few may be illegal migrants who entered the EU countries from the back door or on forged documents. Of late, however, for reasons not fully justifiable, they have come under a sharper focus and attempts are being made to ease them out, possibly to vacate space for the incessant inflow of refugees from North Africa and the Middle East.

Towards the end of last year some member-states of European Union set about deporting Pakistani immigrants without giving them the right to defend their position. But the concerned authorities in Pakistan refused to accept them and sent them back through the very planes that had ferried them to Pakistan. Their deportation was not only against basic human rights but also without proper verification of their antecedents, as well as in blatant violation of the bilaterally agreed European Union Readmission Agreement (EURA). Resultantly, Pakistan suspended the said protocol. As the EURA unfolded in real terms it was grossly short on respect for human rights.

And in some cases, as Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan conveyed to the visiting EU Commissioner for Migration Avramopoulos, the dignity of Pakistani immigrants was hurt. Alternately, he proposed the text of a standard operating procedure (SOP) in order to ensure that the process for deportation is transparent and speedy in compliance with verified documents of the marked deportees. He is of the mind that Pakistan will not allow any plane carrying deportees unless their nationality status is verified and details of charges and supporting evidence are made available.

After three months of suspension of the EURA, its Joint Readmission Committee met in Brussels and accepted most of the proposals made by Interior Ministry. Nisar’s determination to ensure that the genuine migrants – and in some cases undesirable elements with fake or forged Pakistani passports – are not deported bore fruit. But no less helpful to win over the EU agreement was tough stand against human smugglers. For nearly quarter of a century some district headquarters have been safe havens of human smugglers, who would acquire wherewithal and needed official patronage to send a person to any place. But that is in the past; under the directive of Chaudhry Nisar, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) launched a countrywide crackdown on human smugglers.

At the same time, Pakistan’s diplomatic missions in EU capitals have been instructed to ‘demand evidence of potential crime and involvement in incidence of terrorism when a host country seeks to deport him to Pakistan’. So far so good, but the problem of illegal migrants is too big to be manageable under the EURA. Be they product of ethnic trouble in Sri Lanka, political crisis in Bangladesh, religious intolerance in India, war in Afghanistan or even disruptions in the Horn of Africa there has been rampant inflow of illegal immigrants and legal refugees. Only Karachi has something like million-plus illegal settlers. And quite a big chunk of them has succeeded in procuring Pakistan’s identity cards and therefore properties with quotable addresses.

This is why controlling illegal outflow to the EU and rest of the world is not as simple as some would like us to believe. But, at the same time, we in Pakistan are conscious of the fact that the EU member-states’ governments are duly concerned over the rising sentiment against the foreigners, a situation easy to be politically exploited given the outsiders unwanted peccadilloes as was of the North African refugees in Cologne on the New Year night or the Paris carnage. Pakistan has no space for criminals and terrorists; if found it would like to get them and deal with them under the law. The reluctance on the part of interior ministry stems from apprehension that innocent people don’t get deported.

Source: Business Recorder