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November 8, 2019

The trafficking trade


November 8, 2019

This refers to the news story, 'Over 30 Pakistani migrants found in France lorry' (November 3). According to official sources, some 75,000 Pakistanis go illegally to Europe, the US and the Middle East countries every year, to seek employment opportunities and better life prospects abroad. There has been no letup in this illegal trade over the years; rather human trafficking and smuggling is on the rise across the country, in particular in the garb of providing jobs abroad, despite the government’s claims of adopting measures to curb and control crime. The situation reflects starkly on the ineffectiveness and laxity of law-enforcement agencies operating in Pakistan. Unscrupulous human traffickers exploit jobless youth, promising them lucrative jobs abroad, and providing them with fake travel documents using various routes of land, air and sea. But most of these victims or illegal immigrants eventually land up in prisons in Pakistan or in a foreign country, if somehow they survive the vagaries and miseries of insecure, dangerous and illegal travel.

The government has recently suspended the licences of 65 overseas employment promoters who were involved in illegal immigration, while another 400 cases of illegal or fake travel and visa agents have been referred to the FIA for further investigations and action under the law, according to the reports. There are 2,240 valid registered overseas employment promoters. The penalties imposed on them are however minor, such as cancellation of licence or suspension of licence or warning or blacklisting. Seemingly, no serious action is taken against these fraudsters under the relevant rules and regulations as they are politically connected and have corrupted the government officials too. Indeed, the fake visa and recruitment scam network is deep-rooted in Pakistan.

Hussain Siddiqui


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