Thursday, October 6, 2022

About the UK-Pakistan agreement

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Pakistan and the UK entered into agreement about the usually thorny issue of returning foreign criminals and immigration offenders from the UK to Pakistan.

Though this agreement falls short of the standard extradition treaty but it may be considered a substantial step towards it. The British authorities offered no apology for removing dangerous foreign criminals and immigration offenders who have no right to remain in the UK.

They call this agreement as the New Plan for Immigration in action and the government delivering. Experts are of the opinion that this agreement will allow Britain to deport unwanted persons, even those who have no ties to Pakistan and will surely be challenged in the UK courts of law.

Pakistani side declared that the agreement renews and updates, in a bilateral context an earlier agreement between Pakistan and the European Community regarding readmission of persons residing without authorisation concluded in October 2009.

The bilateral agreement was necessitated by the exit of the UK from the European Union.

Under the new plan, Pakistani nationals with no legal right to remain in the UK, including criminals, failed asylum seekers and immigration offenders, will reportedly be removed. It
was mentioned that Pakistan nationals make up the seventh largest number of foreign criminals in prisons in England and Wales totaling nearly 3 per cent of the foreign national offender population.

In this context it was mentioned that the agreement underlines both countries’ ongoing commitment to tackling the issue of illegal migration and the significant threats it poses to both nations. The agreement also includes ongoing work to improve and expand UK-Pakistani law enforcement cooperation.

Though both the British and Pakistani government have signed this agreement yet some lawyers see it as a blow to Pakistan, which may now see an influx of deported criminals from the UK, even those who have never visited Pakistan.

This is considered a very negative step for Pakistan as just last year, the Pakistani government was presented with this deal and refused to sign it, because fundamentally it will allow serious criminals to be deported to Pakistan without critical information sharing and that this will present huge problems for Pakistan.

Experts cite a case in favour of their argument of a convicted pedophile and child abuser who was deported to Pakistan from the UK but exploited the absence of an information-sharing mechanism and continued his criminal activities in Pakistan and in 2019 he was arrested for the rape and assault of up to 30 minors, despite being convicted of similar offences by a UK court in 2008.

Experts also mentioned that such issues will increase with some criminals being deported who have no links to Pakistan and they will pose an even greater threat as they have no family network once they are sent back.

They categorically declare that the only beneficiary is the UK with Pakistan massively losing out in the matter. The deal with Pakistan came after deals were signed with Albania and
India last year, as well as Serbia and Nigeria this year.

Pakistan’s deal appears similar to the agreements signed with Albania, Serbia and Nigeria where illegal immigrants and criminal offenders will be removed from the UK. The deal with
India, however, was more of a migration partnership deal, which allowed young British and Indian nationals to work and live in each other’s countries.

The details of readmissions agreement was under negotiations for quite long with Pakistani political partisans trying to take political capital out of it.

It was mentioned that the agreement would enable the sharing of criminal records between the UK and Pakistani authorities to support effective law enforcement cooperation between the two countries. The British authorities also mentioned the UK Home Office’s new immigration system that would level the global playing field to those wishing to travel to the UK and it was specifically beneficial to Pakistani students with new graduate routes providing them an opportunity to enter into skilled roles in the UK job market.

It was also mentioned that previously, the British government did not share data and other records of people being repatriated to Pakistan and under the new agreement, the British authorities will share such information.

The agreement also proposed sending back Pakistanis whose visas had expired, who had overstayed illegally and who were charged as sex offenders to mention some, would be
repatriated to Pakistan and their details shared.

This negotiation effort followed an aborted chartered flight organised by the British that was carrying Pakistani immigrants from London that landed in Islamabad but was refused permission to drop the passengers when the government refused permission.

However, nearly two months after it was refused permission, a similar flight was allowed
to land and hand over the passengers to Pakistani authorities.

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Nasir Mahmood Aslam
Malik Nasir Mahmood Aslam is a seasoned social activist

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