After suspending the previous deportee readmission agreements with most EU states and changing requirements for re-entry, the Interior Ministry on Thursday meted its threats with action. It sent back 30 people from Benazir Bhutto International Airport claiming that they did not have verified documentation. All 30, regardless of where they were deported from, were sent back to Greece.

The reasons may be different, as is the scale but this action by the governments starkly resembles the way Rohingya and Bangladeshi refugees were sent back and forth by the South East Asian states. Even if we assume that the majority of the people sent back were sent back on trumped up terrorism charges, Pakistan is essentially washing it’s hands of Pakistani citizens, and making them the concern of some foreign nation, any nation. We must also consider the likely possibility that some of the people sent back were indeed illegal immigrants – as Pakistani citizens are one of the largest migrant groups to arrive in the EU – only without proper documentation per the new rules. EU embassies have contradicted the statements of the interior Ministry and said that the people sent back were given valid travel documents by Pakistani embassies, and hence the problem of ‘verification’ lies at the Pakistani end; especially since EU authorities cannot access Pakistani records and information. But the point is this, regardless of whose fault it is, the EU states, the Pakistani embassies, or the Interior Ministry, the problem remains. Pakistani citizens are being shuttled from country to country without knowing their future, and most importantly, without the protection of their state.

Chaudry Nisar is correct insofar he claims that decisive action against illegal and unverified deportations to Pakistan is important – Pakistan should not be a dumping ground for unwanted people. However, there is a large possibility that Pakistani citizens are the collateral damage. If a person is a citizen, no law prohibits his entry into the country. Furthermore, the government is absolutely mandated by the constitution to take care of its own. Heavy handed and vague laws run the real risk of lumping legitimate deportees and illegitimate ones together. Before dismissing deportees as “unverified” the government should at least ask the nameless ‘deportee’ his or her wishes. If they are Pakistani citizens and want to avail the security of their own country, the government should not deny them.