Russia, EU concern over illegal immigration from Pakistan

The Pakistan’s Foreign Office claimed that the group was headed to Russia for an exhibition. Nevertheless, the arrival of doubtful or violating Pakistanis and their deportation from airports of different European and Middle Eastern countries is not a new phenomenon … A special report by Dr Sakariya Kareem

Many individuals from Pakistan are willing to go to great lengths to gain entry into the Western world. There have been reports of Pakistanis attempting to migrate as business delegates or investors. Recently, a suspicious Pakistani person who arrived in Moscow as part of a supposed delegation was reportedly deported by the local airport authorities.  The person claiming to be representing the livestock and dairy department of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is said to have created a scene at the airport while being sent back to his country.

As per onlookers, the issue appeared significant as no explanation was provided on the spot by the airport authorities. His protest however could not influence the Russian immigration officials who resolutely disallowed his presence on their land.

People are under duress in Pakistan. Motorcyclists wait at a gas station in east Pakistan’s Lahore.(Photo by Sajjad/Xinhua/IANS)

The latest incident reinforces the stringent view of Russian authorities when it comes to blocking entry of suspicious persons from Pakistan. Similarly, in 2016 more than a hundred Pakistani traders were detained at the Moscow airport before being deported back. The Pakistan’s Foreign Office had then claimed that the group was headed to Russia for an exhibition. Nevertheless, the arrival of doubtful or violating Pakistanis and their deportation from airports of different countries is not a new phenomenon.

In 2019, a Pakistani travel video blogger Hasnain Manzoor claimed that he was deported from Colombo airport despite having valid documents for his stay. Manzoor also mentioned about the Sri Lankan authorities complaining that around 2,000 Pakistanis reaching there on tourist visas had ended up seeking asylum.

In September 2022, a man was deported from Dubai Airport after causing disturbance by exhibiting erratic behaviour on a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight from Peshawar. The passenger, who punched and kicked seats and damaged a window shutter was asking the cabin crew to get him off the aircraft. The crew tried to calm down the passenger, but he continued his disruptive behaviour. The crew eventually had to tie up his hands and feet in accordance with aviation procedures. Upon arrival in Dubai, he was sent back to Islamabad with PIA officials.

Unruly behaviour and violation of local rules was exemplified in 2016 by a famous Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan at the Indian airport of Hyderabad. Pakistani nationals are only allowed to enter India through Delhi and Mumbai, but the singer had directly flown in from Abu Dhabi. Instead of admitting his mistake, the singer faulted the airlines for the incident.

Remarkably, the behaviour of such passengers does not change much even after being pushed back to Pakistan. An interesting case dates back to 2012 when 57 Pak nationals deported from Greece were sent back through Gulf airlines. Upon landing at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport near Rawalpindi, deportees ran off after beating Federal Investigative Agency (FIA) officials.

The police was able to arrest some of them later. Considering the huge flow of illegal migrants from the country, the concerns of immigration authorities regarding Pakistani travellers cannot be termed unfounded. As per data provided by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in 2021, 618,877 Pakistani nationals had been deported from 138 countries since 2015 for illegal entry, carrying fake travel documents or expired work permits. Interestingly, a significant proportion of the total deportees were from friendly countries, including Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Iran.

Some of them managed to gain entry into other countries on the basis of dubious documents usually prepared by their agents or human traffickers while others deliberately misplaced their documents to prolong their illegal stay. Of late, the Foreign office of Pakistan and its embassies around the world have been in overdrive for promoting an honest image of Pakistanis. However, going by the rising instances of deported troublemakers from airports, the exercise is not likely to yield much result. Since such incidents take place in full public or media view, their impact and reach is far more widespread than any artificial campaign.

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