Flight carrying Pakistani illegal immigrants from UK lands in Islamabad

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The chartered flight carrying Pakistani immigrants from London has finally landed in Islamabad after a delay of two months a strong legal threat by the UK government to authorities in Pakistan.

Credible sources revealed that the UK government warned Pakistan of legal action that could be taken under the European Union Readmission Agreement (EURA).

Pakistan and the UK are both signatories to the agreement for repatriation of illegal immigrants who have exhausted all legal options to stay in the UK and Europe. 

Credible sources revealed that the chartered flight reached Islamabad on December 16, nearly two months after it was refused permission at the last minute by the Pakistan government on October 20. 

Pakistan was told that it could face a legal challenge over it’s refusal to allow the flight to land in Islamabad and that Pakistan could be held in breach of the agreement, a source here confided.

A source in Pakistan government, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Pakistan is bound by the terms of the EURA and continuing to deny the landing rights could have led to a legal challenge for the country. The source, however, said that the EURA will expire at the end of this month. 

Sources shared that Pakistan would like to bargain new terms with the UK government and cancelling the flight was a signal to the UK from the Pakistani authorities that it needs to accommodate Pakistan more if it wants to continue sending illegal immigrants from the UK to Pakistan. 

Although Britain technically left the EU on January 31, 2020, its relationship with the EU remains the same in practice until the end of the transition period on December 31. 

From January 1, 2021 the EURA terms between Pakistan and the UK will come to an end too as Britain will no longer be part of the European Union.

Around 36 immigrants were supposed to fly two months ago on the chartered flight but around two dozen arrived instead, according to a source. 

Pakistan High Commission London refused to comment but the Home Office said,”Eighteen people were returned to Pakistan on a charter flight operation from the UK” on December 16.

The Pakistan government source said that according to the agreement, Pakistan is bound to take 2,100 illegal immigrants from the UK every year whose visas have expired and who are no more eligible to stay there. 

The Pakistan government came under fire when this agreement was inked between the two countries by then interior minister Rehman Malik. It was subsequently his successor, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. 

The News had exclusively reported on November 6, 2020 that Pakistan cancelled the chartered flight amid a diplomatic row involving the matter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s deportation.  

Advisor to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior, Shahzad Akbar, had written a letter to the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel in which he said that she was “duty bound” to deport Nawaz Sharif.

The UK government, through a letter, replied to Pakistan that the UK follows international laws and cannot deport Nawaz Sharif. However, the UK government said it would consider sending Nawaz back if an extradition request is filed. 

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