Check on cross-border crimes imperative: EU Commissioner

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By Shabbir Hussain

ISLAMABAD, Nov 14 (Diplomtaic Star): European Union Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs Ylva Johansson on Monday lauded Pakistan’s role in controlling cross-border terrorism, smuggling, and trafficking and expressed the EU’s intent for “deeper cooperation” in the area of border management.

At a joint press stakeout with State Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, the EU official said Pakistan was “performing well” in checking cross-border crimes.

Johansson, who arrived in Islamabad on Sunday on a two-day visit, held meetings with government representatives and authorities on matters pertaining to migration, mobility dialogue, and security cooperation.

EU Commissioner Johansson said her meetings with the officials of Frontier Corps and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) during her visit to Peshawar focused on the fight against terrorism and organized crimes, and also on the border management activities along with the Pak-Afghan border.

She mentioned that she was “impressed” by the steps taken by Pakistan’s border management authorities, which illustrated the country’s effective approach.

Terming Pakistan a “very important and strategic partner”, she said the EU was committed to further building on the 60 years of relations in diverse areas including trade.

The EU, she said, intended to launch a comprehensive dialogue with Pakistan on issues pertaining to migration and mobility.

“The EU and Pakistan have a good base and energy to cooperate not only on controlling illegal migration but to explore the possibilities for legalized migration of skilled workforce,” she said.

She mentioned in this regard the EU’s “aging society” that needed a fresh workforce equipped with contemporary skills.

On the Afghan refugees in Pakistan, Johansson lauded the generosity of the host country, adding that the EU was experiencing a similar challenge with four million Ukrainian migrants.

She said the EU stood ready in extending its cooperation to deal with the Afghan refugees.

To a question on the killing of Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya, she said the freedom of expression remained of utmost importance and fundamental to democracy.

State Minister Khar said Pakistan gave high importance to a sustained engagement with the EU for a promised development, including the progress on GSP Plus.

In her meeting with EU Commissioner, she said both sides agreed to work in the area of migration and mobility.

Khar said Pakistan was working to minimize the possibility of illegal migration, however simultaneously required to “open doors for legalized migration and an infrastructure for producing skilled workforce”.

She said Pakistan with its 65 percent young population was well-placed today to provide the EU skilled workforce in various areas, including information technology.

To a question, if Pakistan would consider extending the deadline for the stay of Afghan refugees, she said the matter needed a long-term policy, which was not dependent on approvals by the cabinet.

Khar said Pakistan did not seek acknowledgment from the international community for its generosity in hosting over four million Afghan refugees. The act, she said, is being done out of sheer global responsibility.

She stressed the need for the world to ‘parachute the Afghans towards safety’ and added that Pakistan was pursuing its objective of creating an environment of peace for the Afghan people.

To a question on evidence collection in the Arshad Sharif case, she said following the “unfortunate incident”, an investigation team was immediately sent to Kenya. Also, Pakistan’s ambassador to Kenya put her best effort to facilitate the transportation of the journalist’s body to home, she said.

Khar said it was not useful to cast aspersions at this stage, adding that “we will get to the bottom and the journalist community deserves the closure of the case”.