London: Britain has clinched a new agreement with Pakistan, dubbed a “landmark” deal, to speedily remove Pakistani nationals with no legal right to remain in the UK.
The Returns Agreement was signed by Home Secretary Priti Patel and Pakistan Interior Secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar and the country’s High Commissioner to the UK, Moazzam Ahmad Khan in London on Wednesday.
The agreement will target Pakistan criminals, failed asylum seekers, visa overstayers, and immigration offenders to facilitate their return to their home nation.
“I’m proud to have signed a new landmark agreement with our Pakistani friends to return foreign criminals and immigration offenders from the UK to Pakistan,” said Patel.
“I make no apology for removing dangerous foreign criminals and immigration offenders who have no right to remain in the UK. The British public have quite rightly had enough of people abusing our laws and gaming the system so we can’t remove them. This agreement, which I am proud to have signed with our Pakistani friends, shows the New Plan for Immigration in action and the government delivering,” she said.
“Our new Borders Act will go further and help end the cycle of last-minute claims and appeals that can delay removals,” Indian-origin Cabinet minister said.
According to the UK Home Office data, Pakistan nationals make up the seventh largest number of foreign criminals in prisons in England and Wales, totalling nearly 3 per cent of the foreign national offender population, around 2,500 prisoners.
The British government says the new agreement underlines both countries’ ongoing commitment to tackling the issue of illegal migration and the significant threats it poses to both nations. The agreement also includes ongoing work to “improve and expand UK-Pakistani law enforcement cooperation”.
The new pact with Pakistan is among a series of Returns Agreements signed by Patel in 15 months under the government’s “New Plan for Immigration” to tackle illegal migration.
From January 2019 to the year ending December 2021, the UK Home Office says it has removed 10,741 foreign national offenders globally.