Pakistan refused entry for 30 Greek migrants at Islamabad, hardly a week after talks with European Union (EU) to settle disputes over repatriations.
The chartered plane took off with the rejected lot still aboard, after 19 whom Pakistan deemed legitimate deportees were allowed to disembark, the interior ministry said.
A senior EU official said last week that Pakistan would stick to a pact to take back citizens deported from mainland Europe, days after Pakistani interior minister Nisar Ali Khan said Islamabad was suspending a repatriation deal.
Last year, around 21,000 Pakistanis who were in Europe sans permission were ordered to return home. An estimated 50,000 Pakistanis travel legally to Europe for work each year.
But the interior ministry said 30 of those who arrived “unverified deportees”.
“Despite having settled all issues with the European Commissioner, Pakistani laws have been violated, which cannot be allowed,” Khan said, in a statement.
The EU office in Pakistan said those on board the aircraft were given documents by Pakistani embassies, but some appeared to have been refused entry for they lacked an interior ministry-issued ID card.
In a statement, it said EU officials were unable to verify this document: “Obviously the European member states don’t have access to this internal information, only Pakistan.”
The EU must do more than to persuade Pakistan to accept the returnees, said Greek migration minister Yannis Mouzalas, while talking to reporters.
Greece has been facing pressure from the European members countries to deport migrants from Turkey instead of allowing them to go elsewhere in Europe.