A four week long winter internship with an NGO that works with refugees in Greece gave me the opportunity to not only understand the situation and issues facing refugees in the country, but also to encounter one of the largest number of Pakistani migrants in Europe. Much to my surprise, there were entire streets in Central Athens near the Omonia Square that were bustling with desi Shops and Pakistani migrants. The quality and cost effectiveness of the food was almost as if someone was dining in the heart of Lahore; To my delight, a full course Mutton dish with ‘Tandoori Roti’ costed me only 4 Euros. At first glance, Pakistanis seemed to be engaged in a number of businesses that ranged from barber shops, to mobile repair labs and garment retailers. Unlike most other countries, where migrants from India outnumber Pakistanis, Greece presents a different situation where the majority of people from South Asian origins are from Pakistan. There was seldom an occasion where I did not encounter someone from Pakistan while using the metro or the bus in the city. However, digging down a little further presented another side of the story. Most of the Pakistanis in the country were single, young men who had entered the country illegally with the help of human smugglers through the land route of Iran and Turkey to Greece. Many people from Pakistan, that I was fortunate enough to interact with belonged to rural areas in Punjab and had relatives or other people from their villages who had travelled to Greece through these means too. Furthermore, a lot of Pakistani youth are involved in selling cheap cigarettes and drugs in black market due to unavailability of employment opportunities given the fact that they do not have proper documentation to live and stay in the country. The reputation of Pakistanis has suffered because of this to the extent that the area with the largest concentration of Pakistanis in Athensis often popularly referred to by the Greeks as the “Thief Market”. It is not an uncommon sight to see jobs that require a lot of manual labor to be outsourced to young Punjabi speaking boys from Pakistan. The Greeks are often blamed for exploiting cheap labor and paying them below minimum wage remuneration. Whereas, the official number of Pakistanis in the country are stated to be around 50,000, the unofficial estimates that include the illegal migrants are as high as 400,000 to 500,000that constitutes around 5% of the total population in Greece. The official number of Pakistanis in the country are stated to be around 50,000, the unofficial estimates that include the illegal migrants are as high as 400,000 to 500,000 that constitutes around 5% of the total population in Greece To discuss my observations, I decided to approach the Pakistani embassy in Greece, the officials of which were kind enough to give me and my colleague an appointment. They revealed that most of the Pakistanis who had entered the country illegally were suffering from psychological issues due to the arduous nature of the journey, and had applied for asylums in an attempt to obtain Greek Permanent Residency. The four districts in Punjab, which had the largest share of migrants included Gujrat, Gujranwala, Sialkot and Mandi Bahauddin. Although, the embassy seemed to be trying their level best to help out stranded Pakistanis in the cities and across detention centers, they seemed to be limited by the response from law enforcement agencies back in Pakistan. It is very important in this case for a proper mechanism to be put into place that allows agencies such as the FIA to identify human smuggling hotspots based upon information relayed by Pakistani missions abroad, and to crack down on everyone involved in this illegal activity. Furthermore, it should be a matter of concern for the national government that so many Pakistani youth are fleeing the country through illegal means across dangerous routes to do menial jobs in a foreign culture. The new PTI government in power envisions to improve the reputation of the country globally, but one of the largest challenges in achieving that goal is to ensure the mitigation of outflow of illegal Pakistani migrants, that often act as a burden for the receiving country. Till that is done, the country would keep on facing an uphill task to improve its image and repute abroad. The writer is a MPA Fellow at the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs, USA Published in Daily Times, January 13th 2019.