Rising trend of human smuggling


Despite the efforts being undertaken by the law enforcement agencies of the country, the surge in human trafficking incidents cannot be checked. Though the human trafficking by air has almost come to an end because of the strict measures adopted by the law-enforcers, but the country needs to do more to control human smuggling to other countries through overland routes.
A large number of Pakistanis still manage to enter other countries, particularly to European continues, every year through illegal means, risking both their life and money, thanks to the economic situation in the country.
There are special anti-human-trafficking cells and units set up by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), which have been tasked with keeping a close eye on the activities of the mafia involved in human trafficking, yet there are members of this mafia that are still roaming around freely and doing their business as usual. It seems that the FIA is utilising its energies more on investigating terrorism incidents and human trafficking seemed to have taken a back seat.
Local agents, who have spread all over the country including cities such as Larkana, Nawab Shah, Rajanpur, Sialkot, Gujrat and Gujranwala, offer individual to send them aboard against heavy amounts and by doing so, they bring a bad name to the country.
According to the statistics maintained by the FIA, around 2,800 Pakistanis were deported, mostly from Turkey and Iran in 2010, while several thousands are reportedly languishing in prisons abroad and at home. Hence the fact, that most of those deported are teenagers, proves that this local agent mafia does not hesitate to lure even youngsters.
During the year 2010, the Punjab FIA alone arrested 1,372 agents and sub-agents involved in human smuggling. Besides them, 19 most wanted human smugglers were nabbed for their involvement in a number human trafficking cases registered by the FIA. During the same year, over 2,000 cases were registered against the local agent mafia while a total of 1,565 agents were convicted in the same year. Last year, over 100 passengers were also offloaded from the Lahore airport when they were trying to leave the country using forged documents. The situation speaks volumes about the rising incidents of human smuggling.
According to the FIA sources, there are 57 most wanted human traffickers on the FIA list from all over Pakistan. Some of them are stationed abroad including Iran, Turkey, Greece and UAE. However, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Mandi Bahauddin and Sialkot are the most lucrative hunting grounds for these human smugglers. There are around 2,000 small jockey children from Pakistan who are still being used in camel races in the UAE. The jockey children already in UAE are mostly between the ages of 4-9 years. Human smugglers play a major role in transporting these jockeys to the Gulf States.
According to FIA sources, some people who proceed abroad as pilgrims manage to move to other countries.
And because of this, the FIA has proposed the issuance of a separate passport for pilgrims. The two main routes being used for human smuggling are seaport and overland routes. Those who take the overland route, go from Iran to Turkey and there ultimate destination is Europe and Greece. The sea land route is used for human smuggling to Oman-Muscat and Dubai. Within Pakistan, two routes are used to transport the intending illegal emigrants to the bordering areas of Pakistan. Quetta–Chaman, Quetta–Nushki–Nokkundi and then Taftan is the first route, while the second route is stretched over Quetta–Kalat–Basima–Panjgur–Mand.
Besides these, there are numerous unfrequented routes which provide an easy access to Iran, Afghanistan and vice-versa. The seaports of Karachi, Gwadar and Jiwani also serve as the easiest routes to get to the Gulf States. Human smugglers involved in children’s smuggling to Middle East countries commonly use this route.
The FIA has recently tried to coordinate with the provincial authorities at Karachi for suspending permits of those transporters who are found involved human trafficking but the move could not help check the rising trend of going abroad through illegal means.
According to the FIA statistics, during the last 3 years, human trafficking has increased manifold between Pakistan, Iran and Oman.
These people start off from Mand Billo and travel up to 300 kms into Iran to a village called Kunarook, from where they board boats and entered Turkey or Oman. There are more than 38 check-posts on Pak-Iran border, but nothing could deter these human smugglers.
Public awareness campaign on human trafficking and gruesome incidents involving death of the intending emigrants also seemed to have failed in making the people realise that their lives are more precious than the money.
The law enforcers need to do more on the issue as the crime not only puts the life and money of the Pakistani youth at risk but also brings a bad name to the country as Pakistan is bracketed with the countries which have failed to fight human trafficking.