In a report by Reuters India, Britain and Pakistan agreed last week to work towards the return of thousands of Pakistani immigrants living illegally in Britain.
Pakistan authorities will provide free emergency passports, while Britain will help the return of Pakistanis detained or living illegally in the country, a statement issued by the High Commission for Pakistan in London said.
A spokeswoman for the commission said the numbers could run into thousands, but could not be more precise.
The agreement came during talks between Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik and his British counterpart Alan Johnson in London ahead of President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit later this week.
“Those people who do not have a valid reason to stay in the United Kingdom need to return,” Johnson was quoted as saying in the statement, pointing to illegal asylum seekers who have been detained in British jails, numbers of which were not immediately available.
A spokesman for Britain’s Interior Ministry said in a statement: “We welcome Interior Minister Malik’s commitment to facilitating the return of Pakistani nationals who have been found to have no right to stay in the UK.
“Working with foreign governments to establish identity and obtain documentation is a crucial part of enforcing the UK’s immigration laws.”
The agreement is expected to target illegal immigrants, but could be used against suspected terrorists.
“We also welcome the very close co-operation which we have with the Pakistan government in working to tackle international terrorism,” the statement added.
Malik described the agreement as an important achievement.
“Let me be very clear and inform the Pakistanis that they must not think that they can get a permanent status if they stay here illegally for 10 years or more,” he added.
It is not clear who would pay for the airfares.
The ministers also discussed counter-terrorism and security.
Britain and Pakistan in May pledged closer cooperation on counter-terrorism and economic development to help fight Taliban militants during a meeting in London between Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Zardari.
Britain and the United States have both adopted a new approach to Afghanistan and Pakistan, focusing on tackling al Qaeda and Taliban militants on both sides of the border.
Source Reuters India
The report missed out one vital piece of information.
How are the authorities going to find all these illegal immigrants? Or do they expect people to come forward on a voluntary basis?
If an illegal immigrant is living, working and earning money in the UK they would need a very good reason to want to return home.
Despite their efforts to track them down in raids and crackdowns, the Home Office does not have sufficient resources to remove hundreds of thousands of overstaying immigrants.
Leading think tank, ippr, said it would it would take at least 20 years to find and remove half a million illegal immigrants at a cost of over £5 billion.
It is estimated that the cost of deporting a person is around £10,000, but this could be much higher if the case goes to a legal aid funded appeal, with the migrant being held in a detention centre for months on end.
The Government has even resorted to flying illegal immigrants back to their country in private jets in an effort to speed up deportations.
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