ISLAMABAD - The European Union (EU) yesterday again raised concern over the government’s policy not to accept migrant deportees without verification of their national identity cards.

This time, Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs of the European External Action Service Helga Schmid conveyed her reservations over the issue of re-admission of deportees at a meeting with Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry.

A statement issued by the European Union delegation to Pakistan on the visit to Pakistan of Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs says that she raised a number of bilateral issues including illegal migration in her meeting with the foreign secretary.

“Migration is a top priority for the European Union given the ongoing migration and refugee crisis. Increasing problems in the implementation of the EU-Pakistan Readmission Agreement have raised deep concerns for the European Union and its member states, in particular following difficulties with a recent Frontex return flight,” the statement said quoting Deputy Secretary General. Proper implementation of the agreement is critical and would reflect our expanding bilateral relations,” she added.

In the meeting, she also congratulated Pakistan for the positive developments as regards relations with Afghanistan and India and encouraged for sustained dialogue as the only way forward to enhance regional cooperation.

Pakistan last week had refused to accept 30 migrant deportees from three European Union (EU) states including Greece, Bulgaria and Austria in a Frontex return flight saying they were sent to the country illegally and in violation of the international laws. The EU had showed severe concern over this decision of the government.

However, the European Union delegation to Pakistan had rebutted the claim saying that “an authorisation of landing was given by the Pakistani authorities for December 3” and Pakistani embassies in the three EU countries had issued them travelling documents. In a statement, it said that it was the duty of Pakistani authorities to verify the CNIC (computerized national identity cards) numbers of those illegal migrants who received travel documents from the Pakistani embassies as “EU member states do not have access to this (Pakistan’s) internal information”.

Few weeks ago, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had claimed that his ministry had suspended re-admission (deportation) treaty with the EU, signed in 2010, claiming that some EU countries were deporting migrants illegally to Pakistan - without proper verification of their citizenship from local authorities and in some case falsely accusing people of their alleged involvement in terrorism.

The EU Delegation to Pakistan in its Thursday’s statement said that Helga Schmid, Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs of the European External Action Service, visited Pakistan on 9-10 December. She represented the European Union at the Fifth Ministerial Meeting of the Heart of Asia where she delivered a statement on behalf of the EU and its Member States recalling their commitment to peace and stability in Afghanistan and in the region as a whole. “A secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan is vital to peace stability of the Heart of Asia region as a whole. This Heart of Asia process can be an important facilitator on this path, provided that all stakeholders invest political capital and resources into it,” she said during the meeting. She announced that the European Union will co-host with the Afghan government the next Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan in Brussels on 4-5 October 2016. A trilateral meeting Afghanistan-United States-European Union also took place with Foreign Minister Rabbani, Deputy Secretary Blinken and Deputy Secretary General Schmid to prepare for the NATO Summit and the Brussels conference next year.