ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the United Kingdom finalized an agreement on Friday that would help tackle the problem of illegal migration and enable the two countries to share criminal records for effective law-enforcement cooperation.
Adviser to Prime Minister on Interior and Accountability Shahzad Akbar and the Permanent Secretary of the UK’s Home Office, Matthew Rycroft, finalized the negotiations, which would ensure the return of illegal migrants, who had no lawful basis to remain in the country.
The senior-most official at the UK Home Office was in Pakistan on a two-day visit to discuss the shared priorities and future cooperation. He took part in several meetings at the interior ministry and associated agencies to identify areas of mutual interest to expand bilateral collaboration.
Highlighting the ground-breaking bilateral collaboration last year that resulted in getting justice for the murder of Dr Imran Farooq, Rycroft expressed his desire to work much closer with Pakistan to tackle the shared threats and bring criminals to justice.
While finalizing the talks on bilateral readmissions agreement, it was decided that the agreement would now be presented to the federal cabinet in the coming weeks for approval so that it could be implemented by the end of the year.
“The ground-breaking agreement will enable the sharing of criminal records between the UK and Pakistani authorities to support effective law-enforcement cooperation between the two countries,” the British High Commission (BHC) said in a statement.
The statement said that the UK was committed to working with Pakistan to develop an effective partnership on migration as part of a deep and mutually beneficial relationship. It said the new immigration system would help Pakistani students enter into skilled roles in the UK job market.
The high commission said that the UK granted over 53,000 visas to Pakistani nationals in the year ending June 2021. These included 9,700 student visas, representing a 78% increase, and 4,600 work visas, it said, adding that the increase was impressive, considering the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pakistan was taken off the UK’s red-list last month while the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) vaccination certificates were now recognized for the UK-approved vaccines, which from November 22 will also include Sinovac, Sinopharm, and Covaxin vaccines.
UK and Pakistan have a long and shared history that is bolstered by the 1.6 million Pakistani diasporas in the UK that is at the heart of the relationship between the two countries. It is these people-to-people ties that make Pakistan a particularly important partner for the UK Home Office.
“These ties are reliant on an effective and well-functioning migration relationship and the UK is committed to strengthening our visa routes and facilitating those wishing to travel between the two countries,” Rycroft said, adding that the Home Office was delivering an immigration system that offers clear opportunities to the brightest and best from Pakistan to come to the UK to study, work and live.