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Media Watch Combatting Human Trafficking

Menace Of Illegal Immigration

Illegal emigration from Pakistan to European countries has assumed a regular significant phenomenon.
According to estimates by the concerned authorities, some 30,000 to 40,000 people from Pakistan attempt illegal passage to Europe via Iran and Turkey every year by adopting illegal ways including unauthorised routes, fake documents and sometimes even without documents and more than often with the assistance of human smugglers. By and large poverty, unemployment and scarcity of opportunities force these people to embark on this (mis)adventurous initiative.

There is another strong psychological factor of envy and competition as immigrants of Pakistan origin living in European countries flaunt their wealth, assets, cars, and lavish residences back in Pakistan which persuade their less fortunate desperate relatives here to undertake perilous illegal journey to Europe in search of quick buck. In pursuit of this overambitious goal, they are often robbed by treacherous and wily human smugglers of their hard-earned money, borrowing and sale proceeds of their meagre assets.
But this is not the end of woeful story; the most tragic part in the misadventure befalls when more than often these hapless persons are abandoned by human smugglers at the international borders, suffer unspeakable harsh inclement weather, face border police and get captured, and ultimately deported or some time are tragically killed far away from their homes by the gun fire of border guards.

There are also a few horrifying incidence of death by suffocation when human smugglers stuffed them into a shipping container or closed vehicles to avoid detection while crossing the borders. In some cases, they are drowned in open sea due to overturning of small boats.

It is fair to say that Pakistan is facing multiple challenges; smuggling of migrants is one of them and certainly not the most pressing one. Feeling the gravity of this growing menace, the country has legislated on this issue and has adopted other counter measures.

Many measures are taken to track the illegal migration like information gathering, cues from media reports and resultant intelligence agencies’ operations. But still there is room for strengthening pre-emptive measures, prevention and strict security and vigilance at border exit points. Grass root level initiatives are required to be taken.

The various agencies of government of Pakistan, particularly Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has adopted 4 P’s strategy i.e., prevent, protect, partnership and prosecute. Moreover, awareness campaigns among the masses have been driven at local level through electronic and print media. These campaigns however are not persistent and effective. Selected targeted area such as Gujrat and Mandi Bahauddin needs enhanced focus for sensitizing the public about the disastrous consequences of attempts at illegal migration. In this context stories of traumatized persons/ families badly affected by such misadventures may be widely shared to inculcate deterrence and awareness among those intending such a misadventure. Towards this purpose there is a need to conduct workshops/ seminars and distribute pamphlets especially among the aspiring youngsters who are most vulnerable and prone to get entrapped in this scam.

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