ISLAMABAD: A special plane of Pakistan Internationals Airlines, carrying 113 Pakistani citizens left in Malaysian jails, reached Islamabad yesterday.
The detainees were brought back as part of the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis’ initiative.
In a statement, Overseas Pakistani Special Assistant Zulfiqar Bukhari said that Pakistani overseas welfare is the top priority of the incumbent government.
Pakistani citizens thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan and PIA administration prior to their departure at KL airport.
The Malaysian government announced the ‘ Back4good ‘ amnesty scheme that became functional on August 1, 2019 to voluntarily repatriate illegal immigrants to their respective countries without being subjected to imprisonment or fines, and blacklisting until December 31.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari told sources that more than 8,000 Pakistanis who were illegally staying in Malaysia had availed the amnesty scheme and returned to the country on special flights from the PIA.
He said the High Commission of Pakistan in Kuala Lumpur made extensive efforts to encourage the formal use of the system by Pakistani illegal immigrants.
Speaking to sources, High Commissioner for Pakistan in Malaysia Amna Baloch said Malaysian immigration authorities vowed to launch an operation against illegal immigrants after the amnesty scheme expired at midnight on December 31.
Under the program, she said, the Malaysian immigration authorities had to pay 700 Malaysian Ringgits for each illegal immigrant to get an out-pass.
The payment for outpasses was made by the High Commission and philanthropists based in Malaysia for several illegal immigrants from Pakistan.
Amina Baloch said over the past five months, the High Commission granted general emergency passports to more than 1,480 illegal immigrants from Pakistan and over 350 free emergency passports to Pakistani prisoners for speeding up their repatriation process.
She said that some 1,880 Pakistanis arrived in Islamabad in August, 1,216 in September, 1,275 in October, 1,404 in November and over 2,500 in December, providing a general break-up.
Highlighting the initiatives of the Pakistan Government, she said she had made special arrangements over the past five months to ensure the timely repatriation of illegal immigrants to the homeland for additional flight operations to Kuala Lumpur.
Unlike private companies, she said, tickets were given at affordable rates by the Pakistan International Airline (PIA) to Pakistani illegal immigrants.
She said to a question that some 8,200 Pakistanis were legally living in Malaysia and more than 20,000 were illegally residing.
She said the High Commission was here in talks with the Malaysian authorities to ensure registered employment for Pakistani strength. “We are taking action to encourage Pakistani emigration across legal channels,” she said.
It may be noted here that the government, after providing financial and technical assistance, also brought some 300 Pakistani detainees back from Malaysia in May 2019.