Monday, June 19, 2023
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) offloaded 19,000 Pakistanis suspected of illegal immigration last year, said the agency's additional director-general North, while sharing details related to operations against human traffickers on Monday.
FIA official Rana Abdul Jabbar's comments came in the wake of the recent boat capsizing incident near the coast of Greece, which included Pakistanis as well.
When Geo.tv asked if the FIA could confirm the number of Pakistanis crossing the borders illegally, Jabbar said the agency can only "confirm what we stopped and prosecuted."
The FIA official added that only the one who hasn’t reached or has encountered an incident, will report their whereabouts; others won't.
“We can share [data] about the people we have stopped from leaving [Pakistan]. Last year, it was 19,000. The catch here is that if someone has legally gone to either Dubai or Libya and successfully reached somewhere in Europe, will never report [that they have reached there],” he said when speaking with Geo.tv on a phone call.
Jabbar also said that Europe deported over 34,000 Pakistanis against illegal immigrants crossing the border last year.
“The FIA registered around 3,600 first information reports (FIRs) against agents,” he said, informing about the number of cases against those involved in human smuggling and trafficking.
According to the FIA's data shared with Geo.tv, around 5,654 cases were registered by the agency’s Anti-Human Trafficking and Smuggling Wing from 2020 to 2022. These were cases converted from a total of 40,298 enquiries.
In the three years from 2020 to 2022, the FIA has registered 11,795 cases against which 6,234 culprits have been convicted. The agency arrested 3,694 people, including human smugglers, traffickers, agents and accused from 2020 to 2022.
Meanwhile, 30 arrested by the FIA are the most-wanted human smugglers and traffickers of Red Book. Under the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, 2018, the FIA apprehended 50 culprits from 2020 to 2022, while under the Prevention of Smuggling of Migrants Act, 2018, the agency arrested 878 perpetrators in the aforementioned three years.
During his appearance on the Geo News programme "Geo Pakistan", the FIA official updated the hosts about the progress in the probe against the traffickers.
Three human traffickers have been arrested and are currently being investigated by the FIA, he said.
"Witness testimony is extremely important in cases against human traffickers," the FIA official said.
Jabbar added that the federal agency also contacts countries where human traffickers reside.
Responding to a question regarding the response time of the Pakistani government in the matter, the FIA official said that the information about the boat incident in Greece was obtained as soon as the incident was in news.
He urged the families of boat tragedy victims to contact the FIA to help with the investigations. "Families of the victims are also victims. Don't be afraid and share the agent's name."
Jabbar added that the victims are also witnesses in these cases and will get protection according to the constitution.
He added that agents transport these passengers via Dubai, while some send people to African countries these days.
A day earlier, the FIA arrested a key “human trafficker” in Punjab’s Sheikhupura for sending people abroad illegally.
Taking action on a tip-off, the investigation agency apprehended the key suspect, Talha Shahzaib, from Sheikhupura. He had received Rs6.5 million from Zahid Akbar, a resident of Farooqabad, for sending him abroad.
The development came hours after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif ordered an immediate crackdown on agents engaged in human trafficking, saying they would be "severely punished".
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' latest update shared on Saturday via Twitter, 12 Pakistanis have been identified among survivors of the capsized boat off the coast of Greece.
"At this stage we are unable to verify number & identity of Pakistan's nationals among deceased," he said, adding that Pakistan's embassy in Greece is in contact with local authorities for identification and recovery of country's nationals.