Human traffickers leave thousands of Pakistanis high and dry

October 5th, 2008 - 1:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Oct 5 (IANS) Abdul Jabbar is one of the thousands of Pakistanis lured by human traffickers for jobs in the Middle East and Europe, only to find themselves stranded, jailed, deported and some even killed.Last week 598 Pakistanis in Oman’s capital Muscat were sent home after they had been arrested for staying illegally in the Arab state and working without proper documents. Jabbar was one of them.

The menace is on the increase in Pakistan with every day many such people being arrested in different countries. “I paid 100,000 rupees ($1,450) to an agent for a job in Muscat by taking loans from different relatives and friends,” Jabbar told IANS.

He said that he met the agent through a friend and then collected money from different family members and friends. “This took almost a year after which the agent took us to Karachi,” said Jabbar, a resident of Rawalpindi.

He said that he and about 100 others were shipped to Muscat in a crowded boat that sailed through the Arabian sea in darkness. In Muscat the agent guided them to a small building in a deserted area, saying that they would have to stay there for about a month after which he would take them to work.

Jabbar said that all of them were still in that house when after 11 days Muscat Police raided the building. All of them were arrested and shifted to a jail. He said that during those 11 days they were provided food but not allowed to leave the building.

He said that after spending about a month in the jail an official of the Pakistani embassy visited them and told them that they were soon to be shifted to Pakistan. “We were sent to Pakistan by a boat in which 598 people were present.”

“We just interrogate these people to trace the human smugglers. They are not really arrested after returning home,” an official of the interior ministry told IANS.

He said that there are several gangs involved in human trafficking. Most of the victims are caught and sent back, with their loans adding to their worries.

“Since January this year about 6,500 people have returned after being arrested in different countries in the Middle East and Europe and a few in the Far East.”

The official said that according to reports received from different Pakistani embassies abroad, about 60 Pakistanis had died while illegally crossing borders. Most of these people were killed by border guards in different countries while some died of illnesses.

“It’s difficult to say how many people are sent out of the country illegally by human smugglers but we are receiving information through our missions abroad that hundreds of Pakistanis are arrested every year for illegally entering other countries in search of a job,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Rising inflation, unemployment and the desire to earn a good living force many Pakistanis to go abroad through human traffickers who in most cases leave them at the mercy of security forces.

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