What are Pakistani tired to explain

Pakistan: What threatens deported asylum seekers in their homeland

A bad phone connection, a tired voice, only a few intelligible words: “No money. No family, ”says the man on the other end of the line. He is one of the eight asylum seekers from the Servite monastery who were deported from Austria to Pakistan at the beginning of last week.

On Thursday, local time late in the evening, profil reached him on his cell phone. He was in Islamabad, he confirmed *, and a second of the refugees was with him. At the moment they both don't know what to do next: "Please help."

"Everything else is up to them"
There was no trace of the remaining six deportees at this point. Before they had been delivered by Austrian police officers to the passport control of the Benazir Bhutto airport near Islamabad: “We accompany rejected asylum seekers to their home country. This ends the deportation, "says a spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior in Vienna:" As a result, you will again be the responsibility of the authorities there. Everything else is up to them. "

The Pakistani embassy in Austria is calm: "Even someone who has fled abroad can return to his home country like any other citizen - as long as there are no criminal charges against him," a diplomat told profil.
And then?

This question is now brutally posed to the eight deported from the Servite monastery: Nawab A., Ifthikhar K., Raja W., Adnan A., Javeed M., Haras A., Humair H. and Hamid M. - and possibly soon also several others. Twelve other Pakistani refugees, who had drawn attention to their concerns through a week-long hunger strike in the Votive Church last winter, are to be deported as soon as Pakistan issues so-called home travel certificates for them: The embassy has refrained from doing so for the time being after the fuss about the case.

In the first half of 2013, 16 Pakistanis were already forcibly removed from the country by Austria, thousands from all over the EU.

At some point they all stand at the exit of the airport in one of the country's big cities: Islamabad, Lahore or Karachi. Usually with little money, but a lot of problems - even if their life and limb are not in immediate danger on arrival.

Usually they left everything behind to finance the escape to Europe. They cannot hope for any support from a state in which de facto no functioning social safety nets exist.

What do you have to fear instead: Persecution or even death? What can you hope for? What difficulties are they facing? All these questions can hardly be answered in a generalized way, not even for the manageable number of the eight deported from the Servite monastery.

profil had the opportunity to inspect their asylum files. This in no way results in a uniform picture. In some cases it is difficult to understand why the Austrian authorities rejected the applications, the threat seems so clear. One of them is found to be at risk, but for legal reasons it is not recognized as a reason to flee. For some, the information appears to be inconsistent, for others, critical information is missing or inaccessible.

Six of the eight men are from the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh. The origin of two others cannot be clearly identified.

"Regionally, the security situation in Pakistan shows strong differences": This finding comes from a report that officials of the Federal Asylum Office prepared after a "fact finding mission" last March.

Its contents do not bode well for the deportees from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The situation there is “critical”, it says: “Although security incidents have decreased, they remain high, and the region is one of the most insecure in Pakistan. At 456, it had the second highest number of attacks in Pakistan and recorded 401 fatalities, ”states the 120-page paper in relation to 2012:“ A total of 611 people were killed in 509 incidents of various security-related violence in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. "

Nawab A. comes from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, for example, who was deported from the Servite monastery last week - more precisely from the small town of Barabandi in the Swat district. The valley has gained notoriety: just a few years ago it was a popular holiday paradise for the Pakistani upper class, and from 2006 Taliban who had fled Afghanistan spread there. From 2009 the radical Islamists controlled large parts of Swat and exercised a reign of terror until their power was broken by a major offensive by the army. Nevertheless, the warriors of God did not allow themselves to be driven out completely. In 2012 they carried out an attack on Malala Yousafzai, then 15, who had campaigned as a teenager to allow girls to go to school contrary to the Taliban's crude ideology. Malala survived the attack with severe head injuries (profile 51/2012).

Nawab A. applied for asylum in Austria on the grounds that he had been threatened by radical Islamists: firstly because the Pakistani military had requisitioned his house during the offensive against the warriors of God; secondly because of "wild parties, loud music and alcohol consumption". A letter he presented to the Federal Asylum Office ends with the sentence: "Expect death."

The Austrian authorities questioned this representation and rejected Nawab's application - among other things, with the reference that it was possible in Pakistan to have forged threatening letters written for money.
Ifthikhar K. also lived in the Swat Valley before he fled to Austria. Among other things, he stated that the Taliban had destroyed his parents' home because his father had cooperated with the military. The descriptions by Ifthikhar K. were, among other things, "due to inconsistencies or inconsistencies in your factual presentation as not considered to correspond to the facts," writes the Federal Asylum Office in its decision. The impression arose "that you have apparently left your homeland in search of economic prosperity".

Apart from that, it should be taken into account “that the cohesion within the extended families in Pakistan is very strong and, when you return, you can assume that your relatives will support you. You could live together again with your large family. "
The family is probably the only point of contact that Nawab A., Ifthikhar K. and the others had after they were handed over to the passport control of Benazir Bhutto airport by the Austrian deportation escorts.

“If you don't have a family connection, you're completely on your own in Pakistan,” says an employee of an international aid organization who has years of experience with the country, but wants to remain anonymous with regard to project work there: “The entire social area Life works through clan structures. Access to it decides whether you can live well and safely or not. "

The family associations sometimes have thousands of members, who are often scattered all over Pakistan. “There are almost always members of these networks, especially in metropolitan areas, and they also have a responsibility to look after relatives,” says the Pakistan expert.

But this also often raises problems: "We have observed that it is difficult for many returnees to meet the expectations of their social environment: their relatives have often hoped for financial support from abroad - so it is not easy to face a disappointed family," says Daniela Blecha from the Austria office of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which supports refugees with reintegration.

The second problem: The Taliban, by which Nawab A. and Ifthikhar K. feel threatened, have connections throughout Pakistan. The Federal Asylum Office itself admits this in its fact-finding report. "The UNHCR (the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, note) emphasizes that although the terrorist organizations mostly operate locally, some are partly networked and partly work together," it says: "A domestic escape alternative can therefore not be generally accepted, but must be checked individually in each case. ”In the case of Haras A., this individual check turned out negative - even though the Austrian authorities even believe that he was the victim of a violent assault. The 32-year-old comes from a city in the Punjab province.

“The Punjab is considered safe, but isolated attacks still occur,” states the Federal Asylum Office in its fact-finding report. The Pakistani authorities recorded 17 attacks with 75 fatalities in the province, which is home to an estimated 91 million people. Statistically, the probability of falling victim to an act of violence is negligible. But that doesn't count for Haras A. He almost got killed for reporting the theft of his tractor to the police: the perpetrators wanted to force him at gunpoint to withdraw the complaint.

His descriptions appeared credible to the Federal Asylum Office. They confirmed that he had an "experience with a criminal background", which, however, was not based on "violence tolerated by the state". The Austrian authorities told him that Haras A. could get himself to safety by changing his place of residence within Pakistan: Since he was “not a high profile person”, “the private individuals mentioned” would not bother to bring him there to pursue.

Under these circumstances, as a "healthy, adult, able-bodied man, it is reasonable for him to initially make a living with odd jobs" or to seek the support of family, friends and NGOs.

According to the Pakistan report of the Federal Asylum Office, a day laborer earns the equivalent of 76 to 152 euros. "This is hardly enough to make ends meet, 80 percent of household expenditure is spent on food," the paper goes on to say: "Conditions for the working class are getting worse."

A general contradiction to the recommendation to simply look for a casual job? Poverty is bitter, but in no country in the world is it per se a reason for asylum. The 33-year-old Javeed M. - he was also deported last week - was certified by the Federal Asylum Office that “in the event of a return” he would be able to “satisfy the most urgent needs and not find himself in a permanently hopeless situation that would exceed initial difficulties”.

Javeed M. comes from Sindh Province, about which the fact-finding team of the Federal Asylum Agency found the following: “Terrorist groups are trying to infiltrate Inner Sindh (the city) of Karachi and Inner Sindh are the only areas in Pakistan, in which the number of attacks in 2012 increased by 222% and 33% compared to the previous year. "

Javeed M. stated that his brother was "killed because of hostility" in Turkey in 2007 and that the family in Pakistan was also threatened as a result, but that the asylum judges did not believe it. The fact that he did not return to Pakistan voluntarily has robbed him and the other men from the Servite monastery of an important opportunity: the International Organization for Migration (IOM) began a few months ago to support Pakistani refugees who are being repatriated.

As part of a project co-financed by the Austrian Ministry of the Interior and the European Return Fund, the IOM provides reintegration support for returnees in the form of benefits in kind worth up to 3000 euros: “Typically, these are used for setting up small businesses, such as food for a retail store, cattle for a farm or a vehicle for a taxi company, ”says Daniela Blecha from IOM Austria. The magic word, however, is: voluntarily. Those who let the deportation come down are not allowed to participate in this program and are left to themselves.

Where Javeed M. was after his arrival in Pakistan was just as unclear as the whereabouts of the other men from the Servite monastery at the time of going to press.

Profil reached the refugee who was stranded in Islamabad without money on the phone again on Friday evening: he is now trying to find his way to the city of Lahore, the man reported - to the Caritas office there.