Gujranwala Hub of Illegal Migration to EU, Reveals FIA Report to Supreme Court

May 3, 2018 (DESPARDES/PKONWEB) — Some 6,767 Pakistanis illegally entered the European Union (EU) during the ongoing year and Gujranwala is the hub of illegal migration to EU, the Federal Investigation Agency informed the Supreme Court on Wednesday through a report.

Additional Attorney General Nayyar Bukhari submitted the report on behalf of the FIA as part of measures taken to stop human trafficking.

In December, FIA had informed the Supreme Court that it nabbed 7,381 human traffickers during the last two year period. A total of 3,334 cases were registered against human traffickers during 2017, of which 2,784 were in Punjab, 85 in KP, 82 in Sindh, 59 in Balochistan, and 324 cases in ICT. In 2016, a total of 4,096 cases were filed, of which 3,349 were in Punjab, 140 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 77 in Sindh, 181 in Balochistan, and 349 cases in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

The FIA report to the top court reveals that Pakistan is among the fourth largest country in terms of its citizens who illegally entered the EU in the ongoing year, adding illegal migrants use Iran and Turkey to reach EU.

“As many as 80,040 Pakistanis have been deported from Iran, 10,476 illegal migrants were expelled from Turkey and more than 20,000 individuals were exiled from EU in last four years,” it says, adding that Gujranwala is the hub of illegal migration to EU through land route featuring Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Greece.

The FIA says there is a need to improve cooperation with Pakistan-Iran border commission in respect of migration issues especially with regard to agents working in Iran.

“The FIA has moved the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to organise an emergency meeting of the Pakistan-Iran border commission and to impress upon the Iranian authorities to arrest and prosecute the Iran-based traffickers,” it says.

The Pakistan-Iran border is more than 900-km long. The management of the border is difficult as people of the same tribes live on both of its sides and move back and forth using unfrequented crossing points by availing ‘Rahdari’ system implemented by the local administrations.

In order to tackle illegal migration through the land route, Pakistan has established an Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to curb the human trafficking, the report said.

“The FIA believes that there is a need to improve coordination among members of the IATF,” it adds.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) report, thousands of Pakistanis fleeing poverty, unemployment and law and order problems have been attempting to illegally enter Europe.

Every year, thousands of Pakistan make abortive attempts to enter Greece via Iran and Turkey for better working opportunities. Most of them are arrested in Iran and Turkey and sent back. Many continue to remain in camps in Greece waiting to be sent back or or be granted permission to move on to any one of the EU member countries.

With Greece facing an economic crisis and unemployment as high as 40 per cent, Pakistani immigrants have no prospects of moving to mainland Europe either as the European Union has shut its door to economic migrants

The Pakistani ambassador to Greece wrote a letter to the Foreign Office (FO) in January, detailing the dire state of Pakistani human trafficking victims in Greece and seeking urgent attention of the government to curtail the crisis-like situation.

He said the “unchecked” smuggling of people is “hurting Pakistan all around”.

The envoy told the FO that while he is making efforts to tackle the issue locally, the “tap has to be closed at your end”. He urged the interior ministry to take immediate steps to curb human trafficking as the issue is “becoming unmanageable”.

Last month, a parliamentary panel was informed that for the last four years Pakistan has been on a human trafficking watch list run by the US State Department. The reason for that is FIA has no capacity or jurisdiction to either investigate or curb human trafficking within the country, The Express Tribune wrote in its editorial on the matter.

“The FIA further admits that even were it given the legislative tools to conduct such investigations it could not absorb the additional burden of work, and was anyway struggling to cope with external human smuggling issues,” the editorial said.

“The scale of the problem is unknown as there is no data gathering beyond the anecdotal…Even assuming the passage of new laws implementation without capacity will render them worthless pieces of paper. Human trafficking is part and parcel of national culture and it is here to stay, a stain on the national character,” the editorial further said.

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