Pakistan on Thursday sent back an airplane with 30 deported refugees from Greece after the country’s federal investigation agency discovered that they were illegally deported.
The move comes a week after high-level talks with the European Union to settle the dispute over forced repatriations.
There were 46 passengers on board, and 16 of the passengers identities were verified by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). Passengers whose identities were verified were then allowed to disembark from the charter plane.
"On the interior minister's orders, the FIA has not allowed these illegally deported people and the aircraft crew to leave the plane," the Pakistani Interior Ministry said.
Last week, Europe's migration commissioner said a 2010 agreement to deport undocumented refugees to Pakistan will be restored, this announcement came almost a week after Pakistani Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan said Islamabad was suspending the deal due to “ irregularities in the implementation of [the] agreement.”
"The signing country had to first verify the nationality of that person who was being deported but there were instances where the nationality was not being verified. The minister took notice and the agreement is temporarily suspended," a Pakistani official said elaborating on the “irregularities.”
As to the validity of agreement, Khan said Pakistan has settled all the issues with European migration commissioner, however “laws have been violated” by Greece, after the country deported and sent “unverified deportees."
Violation of law “cannot be allowed,” he said.
An average of 50,000 Pakistanis legally travel to Europe due to economic reasons and the lack of job opportunities. On the other hand, EU statistics say there were also 21,000 residing illegally within the EU borders last year.
Khan did not specify the reasons for not accepting the “unverified” deportees.
Fleeing war and poverty, about 890,000 refugees crossed the Mediterranean to reach Europe this year, while over 3,500 died in their attempt.