Europe will return tens of thousands of illegal Pakistani migrants, according to Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European commissioner for Migration, Home affairs and Citizenship, who made the announcement in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.
The ostensible reason Avramopoulos gave for returning the illegal migrants was that Pakistan functions under a “democratic process,” unlike Syria and Afghanistan, which are riven with strife and whose governments have no democratic process. Avramopoulos said:
Pakistanis will not qualify as political refugees. Pakistan is under a democratic process. … It is not a country where its citizens are persecuted, and great progress has been done by authorities in Pakistan in order to pave a democratic perspective for their country.
Officials claim that less than 20 percent of Pakistani illegal migrants are granted asylum in Europe; Eurostat alleges that 168,000 illegal Pakistani migrants were supposed to be deported from the European Union between 2008 and 2014, but only 55,750 actually left, due to a paucity of flights, bureaucratic delays, and lack of enforcement. European Union nations signed an accord with Islamabad in 2009 allowing Europe to repatriate illegal Pakistani migrants.
Until Avramopoulos’ visit, Pakistani authorities were unhappy about the proposed return of the migrants; as late as last week, Pakistan’s Interior Ministry said Pakistani airlines would not aid the repatriation process. Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan accused E.U. states of laxity in confirming the refugees’ nationalities, asserting, “We cannot accept those Afghans, Bangladeshi, Burmese and Indians as Pakistani citizens who manage to get fake documents by the virtue of a bribe.” Khan also expressed anger that some of the refugees were accused of having terrorist ties, adding, “This is tantamount to insulting Pakistanis and humanity.”
After the Avramopoulos visit, according to one Interior Ministry official, “Both sides agreed that Pakistani deportees would be sent back to Pakistan … under a comprehensive procedure acceptable to both sides.”
The return of the illegal refugees will not terminate the flow of legal Pakistani migrants to Europe; roughly 50,000 Pakistanis emigrate to Europe every year.
Despite the claim that Pakistan utilizes a democratic system, claims have been made of the government severely persecuting some citizens; one illegal migrant from Pakistan told Deutsche Welle:
Some months ago, my brother-in-law was murdered over a land dispute. I was also living with him. The assassins had links to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Muslim League Party. They wanted to kill me too. I didn’t expect any protection from the police because Pakistani law enforcing agencies support the powerful, and in this case a provincial lawmaker.