Pakistan and the United Kingdom (UK) on Wednesday signed a landmark agreement that would enable London to repatriate Pakistani nationals involved in crimes and violating the immigration laws.

“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,” British Home Secretary Priti Patel announced in a tweet while signing the agreement.

“This deal shows our #NewPlanForImmigration in action, as we deliver for the British people,” she further wrote on her official Twitter handle.

The deal, however, is not an extradition treaty and it would not have any direct bearing on three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who is currently living in London under the pretext of medical treatment.

The agreement was originally finalised by the PTI government in late last year and the UK finally went ahead with the deal.

A Pakistani official said that the agreement would mean that the UK could now send back Pakistanis involved in “petty crimes and visa violations”. The official explained that following this treaty, Pakistanis seeking asylum on ‘flimsy grounds” would be repatriated.

In the absence of a bilateral treaty, the UK was unable to deport those individuals, the official added.

Under the new agreement, those whose visas had expired, who had overstayed illegally and who were charged as sex offenders to mention some, would be repatriated to Pakistan and their details shared, Shahzad Akbar, the then minister of state for interior had explained in November 2021.

In December 2020, Pakistan refused permission to a chartered flight carrying Pakistani immigrants from the UK. Many Pakistani travel to the UK, some on student visas and others as tourists but often they never return and seek asylum there.

With the new agreement in place, those illegal immigrants will not be able to stay in the UK without a valid reason.

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