STRASBOURG (AFP) Europe voted in Tuesday a controversial deal to send back thousands of illegal Afghan and Pakistani immigrants. The re-admission agreement passed by the European parliament after years of negotiations with Islamabad is intended to ensure such returns meet international rules on human rights protections. About 13,000 Pakistani nationals were picked up in Europe in 2008 without correct paperwork, according to the Strasbourg-based parliament. It did not have figures for Afghan immigrants in a similar situation, who invariably pass through Pakistan. The European Union, which has brokered 11 such deals with other countries, sees this agreement as a means to undermine people smuggling networks. EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said the blocs own credibility meant rules must be based on the principle that those who do not have a legal title to stay on the territory are returned. Under the re-admission agreement, no-one shall be returned if this would entail the risk that the person concerned would be subject to persecution, torture or inhumane or degrading treatment, she said. The European Union would continue to push for Pakistan to sign the Geneva convention covering refugee treatment, she said.