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June 19, 2019

UK wants Pakistan to take back thousands of migrants: Qureshi

Top Story

June 19, 2019

LONDON: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said Britain wants Pakistan to take back thousands of Pakistanis who have overstayed their visit visas — and have no status — but cannot be sent back without a proper treaty.

At a press conference in Pakistan High Commission here, the Foreign Minister said the UK government wants Pakistan to sign a re-admission treaty so the “overstayers” and others living illegally could be sent back to Pakistan. Qureshi said signing this treaty will be helpful for those Pakistanis who apply for the visit but their visas are rejected because Britain is cautious of visa applicants. “We have initiated a dialogue on this. This will help those who are genuine visa applicants. This will help Pakistan more,” said Qureshi.

Linked with the same matter, Qureshi said he had discussed with Home Secretary Sajid Javid the issue of former finance minister Ishaq Dar. The foreign minister confirmed there is no extradition treaty currently between the UK and Pakistan and the issue of capital punishment has been the “biggest obstacle” between the two countries. “We have found a way and that’s to amend the Pakistan Penal Code which will address the concerns of Britain,” he said. He said amending the PPC will help Pakistan in seeking the extradition of people it wants.

He said that an exchange of prisoners programme exists between the two counties but the two countries need more than that. Answering a question, Qureshi said he had no ambition to seek any other role other than what he already has.

When asked about the alleged selective accountability by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Qureshi said that it was up to the NAB to make independent decisions. He said the NAB was taking decisions on merit and is beyond the government’s control.

Qureshi said he was disheartened that Pakistan cricket team lost to India but added the team captain did not listen to the advice of Prime Minister Imran Khan. About the appointment of Ali Jahangir Siddiqui to bring investments to Pakistan, Qureshi said the PM had taken this decision to improve investments.

He said Siddiqui will be working without a salary and will not cost anything to Pakistan. When reminded that his party had made allegations against him and termed his appointments previously as a national security threat, Qureshi said he personally made no allegations against Siddiqui.

Qureshi said he had met with Pakistani community, business people, potential investors, young entrepreneurs and the British Pakistani parliamentarians during his visit of the UK and explained to them about the opportunities that Pakistan offered.

He said that the government is fully committed to the welfare of the people and has taken necessary measures in this regard. He said that structural changes in economy would lead to sustainable economic growth.

He commended the constructive role played by the expatriate community in the socio-economic development of the UK as well as Pakistan. He said around 1.5 million strong Pakistani diaspora in the UK is a vital link between the two countries and gives strength to our bilateral relations. He urged the diaspora to invest in various sectors of Pakistan economy and benefit from the investment friendly regime of the country. He said he found great potential in young Pakistani entrepreneurs.

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