back to home......
That’s the treatment we give millions of Pakistanis
who toil abroad to annually earn more than $ 4
billion foreign exchange so that the government can
squander it away according to its whims.
The government and private sharks reserve the worst
treatment for those who were trafficked abroad —
smuggled or sent through illegal routes and means —
since the Middle East oil boom of the early 1970s.
Private sharks, aided and abetted by the
government’s very own law enforcers and immigration
bureaucracy, trafficked these thousands, who paid
hefty sums of money to get smuggled merely as
chattel — a commodity bundled and bailed as any
other export. Millions of families and generations
of those who paid to be trafficked were ruined, as
all the stakeholder sharks amassed huge amounts of
wealth. Hundreds of them were thrown back home,
maimed, injured, mutilated and amputated. For
thousands of families, the homecoming of their dear
ones was tragic. Many families received nothing but
One government after the other pretended they were
protecting their nationals abroad. Later, dozens of
national and international conferences, meetings and
seminars — the latest one in Islamabad has just
ended — revealed that the suffering of our own
people in hostile, unknown lands has not abated.
Dilshad Nasir spent Rs. 450,000, raised by selling
his father’s taxi and mother’s dowry, to get
trafficked to Greece. As the latest anti-trafficking
international conference was going on in Islamabad,
Dilshad Nasir hobbled home, without one leg and the
other leg without a foot, snow-bitten and amputated
in Greece. End of the story. End of his family.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, can you help him? Can
you stop this long, continuing tragedy, turning
hundreds of our young men into Dilshad Nasirs? Can
his tormentors and looters, Muhammad Arshad Warraich
of village Maajar, Gujrat and the mafia, be put
behind bars after public trials? Arshad alone has
trafficked 500 people to Athens on fake travel
documents, told Aftab Ahmed Sherpao, speaking at the
three-day regional conference on ‘Development of a
Conceptual Framework and Strategies to Combat Human
Trafficking’. It was organized by the International
Organization for Migration (IOM) and Canadian
International Development Agency (CIDA). The
conference, as a follow up of the formation of
Pakistan Thematic Group on Human Trafficking, had
gathered all stakeholders to study the crime of
trafficking and its complexities and the action to
Not long ago, so many people from across Pakistan,
specially Gujrat, were being trafficked into Britain
that it compelled Prime Minister Tony Blair to
consider banning PIA flights landing at UK airports.
“This action against the scandal would have been too
strong and would have permanently damaged relations
between the two countries. This is why Mr. Blair was
advised against it,” diplomats told me.
Should Islamabad’s anti-trafficking conference adopt
Dilshad Nasir as its tragic symbol, an eye-opening
‘mascot’, if you like that label? I think the
Excellencies from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India,
Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Turkmenistan
who attended the conference, should. This symbol
lays bare the intricacies of the task ahead of them.
Trafficking violates human rights. Its scale is
particularly alarming in South Asia, home to the
largest number of the global poor, destitute,
malnourished and the ill.
Sherpao told the conference, “The menace of human
trafficking is a matter of great concern…In order to
control it, anti-trafficking legislation is being
updated.” For this purpose, the government has also
signed an agreement with Iran, India and Greece.
Afghanistan also wishes to join in. Sherpao said,
“Pakistan will share its expertise with our regional
partners to ensure more effective prevention of
Abdul Monem Mustafa, IOM’s regional representative,
said his organisation has been working with Pakistan
for four years to “tackle this form of irregular
migration”. It is running a shelter home for victims
of trafficking to provide them medical,
psychological and legal help, besides their safe
repatriation to and rehabilitation in their country.
The conference explored the idea of formation of a
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
Police Force to curb human trafficking in this
The participants proposed “exemplary punishment to
human traffickers through special courts,” and
enforcement of anti-trafficking laws at country and
regional level. It agreed to provide legal
assistance to the regional countries under the SAARC
Convention on bilateral and multilateral treaties on
extradition and extra-territorial jurisdiction.
The region’s governments can also cooperate under
the SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating
Trafficking in Women and Children.
Besides stiff legislation, cleaning up of law
enforcers, immigration officials and the police, and
a speedy system of justice, the region also direly
needs a national and regional code of conduct for
licensed recruiters and travel agents.
Canada’s John J. Moore appreciated Pakistan’s
efforts to control human trafficking that led to its
removal from the watch list of countries with
But Zubaida Jalal, Minister for Social Welfare &
Special Education, was of the view that, “Without
joint efforts of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan,
smuggling of humans cannot be checked in the region.
Women and children are the main victims of
trafficking. It encourages prostitution and other
social evils.” The continued smuggling of young
children out of Pakistan into the Gulf states to
serve as camel jockeys, and the growing trafficking
of Central Asian women for prostitution into
Pakistan and other regional countries extending
right up to the Gulf, too, need immediate curbing.
Sitting at Dubai airport, I have seen chartered
planes bringing in Central Asian girls, brought
mainly for prostitution in the region.
What is the scale of trafficking? Tariq Pervaiz,
Director General FIA, says trafficking is slowing
down. Britain has moved Pakistan from a “high risk”
to “low risk” country, “on the basis of FIA’s
performance in checking illegal immigration to UK.”
The US State Department, acknowledging FIA’s role in
checking trafficking, has improved the country’s
rating. However, the biggest challenge being faced
by FIA is to reduce human trafficking through Iran
and Turkey. 20,000 persons smuggled to different
countries were deported and sent back to Pakistan.
They included 10,000 deported from Amman and 10,000
from Iran, Turkey and Greece last year. An
inter-agency task force headed by Tariq Pervaiz was
formed in September 2005. It has arrested 3,500
persons while crossing the Pakistan-Iran border.
Nearly 3,900 cases of human smuggling were finalized
in 2005, up from 2,393 in 2004, of which 1,125 cases
led to conviction in 2005, up from 585 convictions
in 2004. A record 1,006 human smugglers were
arrested in 2005. In 2005, 554 persons were stopped
from travelling on fake documents, compared to 267
Moving forward, yes. But a lot more needs to be
All this shows the scale and magnitude of human
trafficking. All this also reveals the huge task
still ahead to curb human trafficking, as well as
preventing smuggling of women for prostitution and
trafficking of our children abroad. It is a call for
action all around. It is a call for everyone — a
call not to be heartless.