The European Union on Monday formally launched talks with Pakistan on migration, including smuggling and readmission, the EU delegation to Pakistan said.
EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson traveled to Islamabad over the weekend to spearhead efforts to end, due to security concerns, unchecked migration to the EU.
During the meeting, Johansson raised "irregular migration and migrant smuggling, and continued enhanced cooperation on return, readmission and reintegration."
Tens of thousands of illegal migrants try to reach the European Union from Pakistan every year through Turkey and Iran, according to Pakistani estimates. Many of them are Afghans, as Pakistan is hosting three million Afghans, including 1.3 million refugees that fled the country after the US troop withdrawal.
The EU commissioner also spoke with Pakistani minister Hina Rabbani Khar about legal pathways for migration. She promised to intensify preparations for the launch of a Talent Partnership with Pakistan to facilitate migration by suitably qualified Pakistanis.
The Commissioner held discussions with Federal Ministers and Secretaries of Interior; Overseas and Human Resource Development; and Education and Professional Training, about possibilities for legal and safe pathways of migration to Europe.
With Pakistan Minister Rabbani Khar, Commissioner Johansson agreed to intensify the concrete bilateral cooperation in security, including counterterrorism and fighting criminal networks, including the fight against the smuggling of migrants.
Commissioner Johansson agreed with the Minister of State that the first EU-Pakistan counterterrorism dialogue since 2018 will be held in the beginning of 2023 in Islamabad.
A broad exchange of views on migration and Afghan refugees with several UN agencies completed the Commissioner's first visit to Pakistan.