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EU Backs Deal to Deport Illegal Pakistanis

The European Parliament has approved a controversial agreement that will make it easier for EU nations to return illegal immigrants from Pakistan back to their homeland.

The European Parliament backed the readmission accord Tuesday with a vote of 382 to 250. Twenty-three members opted not to vote.

Under the accord, any EU readmission request not answered by Pakistan within 60 days will be considered accepted. Pakistan also will have to justify any refusal for readmission.

Some members of the European Parliament strongly opposed the agreement on human rights grounds. Opponents argued that Pakistan does not comply with relevant human rights standards and has not signed the Geneva Convention on Refugees, which prevents governments from deporting people at risk of torture.

Once ratified, the new rules will apply only to those who enter the EU illegally after the accord goes into effect.

The European Commission estimates that about 13,000 Pakistani citizens have been arrested in EU nations without proper documentation.

The measure calls for the EU and Pakistan to engage in dialogue on legal immigration and visa policy.

The European Parliament's approval of the agreement follows eight years of negotiation with Pakistan.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.