Human trafficking racket unearthed
RAWALPINDI, June 24 2005: The Pakistani mission in Cairo has unearthed a racket engaged in human trafficking and has reported that 90 per cent of cases of sending illegal Pakistani immigrants to Europe through Egypt originate from Gujrat. This was stated in a report sent to the ministry of foreign affairs and the director-general of immigration and passports by the Pakistani consular in Egypt, a copy of which is available with Dawn.
It said that the consulate had sent back to Pakistan 42 illegal immigrants, caught by Egyptian authorities, between May 15 and June 8. Some of the immigrants had managed to reach Germany but they were caught there and sent back to Egypt.
According to the report, the consular has carried out individual interviews of the immigrants during which following facts were revealed.
Out of the 42 passports of the immigrants, almost 90 per cent were from Gujrat. The agents of human traffickers, called recruiting agents, had charged Rs400,000 to Rs600,000 for sending a man to abroad. The immigrants had paid half to one-third of the total amount in advance and were supposed to pay the rest after reaching their destinations.
The report further said that a well-knit group having connections in Pakistan and Egypt was operating the racket and added: “The group did not abandon its clients. We kept on getting anonymous calls giving latest position of the apprehended immigrants, received their return tickets through third party and, in one case, $1100 for purchasing three tickets.”
The report said that it was also learnt that the agent group had some links at Doha airport in Qatar as well, where an Egyptian national had provided the illegal immigrants Singaporean passports. They entered Egypt on those passports and attempted to go to Germany or Greece.
Singaporean passport is machine readable and cannot be easily made.
The report further said that some immigrants had genuine passports with proper visa affixed by the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad. But most of them had only a computer-produced paper provided by the agent in Pakistan.
During interviews, it emerged that the immigration department in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore airports had failed to detect the anomaly in the paper/visa.
“The immigrants cleared the immigration barriers in Alexandria and entered the city but were captured by Egyptian authorities after a couple of days. Most of them had received visa on arrival.
The report added: “This racket includes both Egyptian and Pakistani agents who have access to immigration departments in both the countries.”
The consular acknowledged that despite efforts, they could not find out any concrete evidence against any agent in Pakistan or Egypt.
However, he said that a Pakistani national had been operating in Egypt since 2004 as the area representative of a Gujrat-based recruiting group.
He suggested that the Pakistani authorities should improve checking system at airports, immigration department and passport issuance centres to prevent such incidents. In the absence of efforts to curb the menace, it would continue to grow and bring bad name to Pakistan, the report concluded.