ISLAMABAD: The European Union has agreed to address Pakis­tan’s concerns which have led to suspension of Pak-EU readmission agreement on migrants.

The visiting Commissioner Migration of the EU, Dimitris Avramopoulos, during a meeting with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan here on Monday assured him that deportees from Europe would now be sent to Pakistan under a clearly defined standard operating procedure.

They also agreed to the need for curbing Islamophobia and combating terrorism and human smuggling.

Also read: Pakistan demands 'proof' of terror charges for deportees

According to informed sources, Chaudhry Nisar insisted that no deportees should be sent (to Pakistan) without verification of their nationality by the interior ministry and informing it about the charge and evidence against them.

The minister had adopted a tough stance when some Pakistani nationals were deported recently from Europe on unsubstantiated charges of terrorism. Italy deported a Pakistani national and claimed that he was involved in the Army Public School attack in Peshawar. But after interrogation, the local authorities found him innocent and having nothing to do with terrorism.

On Nov 6, Chaudhry Nisar had said that Pakistan could not allow any country to label its innocent citizens as terrorists and announced that the readmission agreement signed with the EU in 2010 had been suspended.

The agreement was meant to establish, on the basis of reciprocity, rapid and effective procedures for identifying and deporting people staying illegally in a country. “We will not allow (landing of) any plane carrying deportees (under the agreement) unless we verify their nationality and get details about the charge and evidence against them,” the minister said.

“Those who give lectures on fundamental human rights to us should also respect rights of Pakistanis,” he said. He deplored the mindset of treating anyone with an Islamic name or sporting beard or a woman wearing a veil as a potential terrorist. “This one-way traffic should stop now.”

The sources said that the agreement signed during the tenure of the PPP government was lopsided to the extent that Pakistan had agreed even to accept non-nationals.

They said that Chaudhry Nisar had to fight on two fronts after suspending the agreement because along with external pressure, he was also told by some key figures in the government to revisit the move which could have serious repercussions. But the minister stood by the decision and said he would do what he thought was in national interest.

The sources said Pakistan and the EU were in the process of devising a new SOP to govern the process of deportation.

On the directives of the minister, they said, deportees who had illegally travelled abroad would be interrogated on their return and raids would be carried out to arrest human smugglers involved in sending them abroad.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2015

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