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April 26, 2019



April 26, 2019

We know from a new report prepared by the government’s National Commission of Human Rights that 80,000 persons who had left the country illegally were deported back to Pakistan. What we do not know is the number of persons being trafficked inside the country. The detailed report suggests this is indeed happening. However, it is reported that because the FIA has human resource of only 4,500 personnel, it is impossible to either keep a check on borders, particularly the Pakistan-Iran border from which people illicitly leave the country to seek travel to Europe or other destinations or to crack down on trafficking within the country. The NCHR team notes that many forms of trafficking exist, with some of those who failed the country themselves becoming agents for others attempting to make an exit. There is also the disturbing finding that young girls are being trafficked to the Middle East on the promise that they will be employed in beauty salons only to then end up in the sex trade.

It is essential the problem be tackled head on. We have failed in this respect for too many years. Far more awareness needs to be created amongst people about the dangers of believing the promises made by ‘agents’. This is especially true in the Gujrat and Mandi Bahauddin areas from where the largest number of people leave the country. Just the fact that so many of Pakistan’s citizens are willing to risk everything they have in an attempt to leave should be a cause for alarm. But solving this problem requires the political leadership to act in favour of the people. The fact that it has failed to do so decade after decade is of course one reason why illegal travel outside the country continues to increase. According to accounts which have been published, scores of people attempt to leave each day. Only a few are successful in reaching their destinations. Pakistan’s failure to prosecute and bring to justice those who lead trafficking rackets is also thought to be a key factor in the expansion of the lucrative business. This has been highlighted in the US Department of State annual ‘Trafficking in Persons’ Report for 2018, which says that despite improved efforts, Pakistan still struggles to take legal action against those involved in human trafficking or to check its occurrence. The report continues to place Pakistan at Tier 2, as a country to be watched and one which has not been able to fully comply with international regulations regarding measures to stop human trafficking.

International monitors continue to see Pakistan as a country of source, transit and destination for trafficked persons. Internal trafficking needs to be examined far more closely. The majority of persons trafficked are moved from one part of the country, particularly in Punjab. The NCHR suggests that the scale of this problem has not been fully documented. Bonded labour is the most prevalent form of human trafficking. Other forms of internal trafficking include children trafficked for the begging business, the sex trade, and for work in various places. The problem affects the lives of millions of people in the country. Beyond telling their stories, we need to find ways to protect them and to curb the rate of trafficking both within our borders and beyond them.

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