Islamabad calls for fair treatment of UK-based Pakistanis

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Islamabad urged London Thursday for fair treatment of Pakistanis living in Britain amid reports of discrimination in the processing of visa applications and treatment of illegal immigrants.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi met British high commissioner Adam Thomson in Islamabad after a report found the British agency responsible for monitoring immigration may be discriminating against Pakistanis in the way it hands out visas.

John Vine, the independent chief inspector who oversees the UK Border Agency, found its staff were making it more difficult for people to enter Britain from Pakistan than from Gulf states such as Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Dubai.

"The foreign minister strongly advised the British government against taking any precipitate actions against Pakistanis residing in the United Kingdom," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Qureshi briefed Thomson about problems faced by Pakistanis in the UK since the two countries recently signed a deal to help stop UK visa fraud and illegal immigration.

Officials have also said Pakistani illegal immigrants are being singled out for arrest and interrogation despite the status of migrants from many countries being an issue in Britain.

"It is Pakistan's expectation that the British government will be mindful of the rights and welfare of persons of Pakistan origin residing in the United Kingdom," it quoted Qureshi as saying.

It added that Pakistan's high commissioner in London had also been instructed to ensure that rights and welfare of Pakistanis in Britain must be fully safeguarded.

Pakistan is the fourth largest source of applications to enter Britain, but over the past two years most decision-making has been moved to London because of the deteriorating security situation there.

© 2010 AFP

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