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Nearly 29,000 Pakistani nationals, attempting to enter Europe, were intercepted by Iran and handed over to authorities in Pakistan in 2016.

Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Deputy Director Jawad Khan on Tuesday said in 2016 Iran had intercepted and handed over 29,074 Pakistani nationals to authorities at the Pak-Iran border at Taftan.

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.

Separately, the FIA, Frontier Corps (FC), Coast Guard and other law enforcement agencies intercepted 8,512 Pakistani nationals who were trying to enter Iran illegally during the year 2016, Khan said.

The numbers show that the influx of illegal immigrants from Pakistani into Iran had increased since 2015-16. In 2015, Iran had arrested and handed over more than 26,000 Pakistanis to authorities at Pak-Iran border Taftan.

That was a significant rise from 2014, when Iran had sent back 5,218 illegal Pakistani immigrants, the Deputy Director FIA revealed.

Human traffickers used both frequented and unfrequented routes along the 900-kilometre-long porous Pak-Iran border to sneak into Iran via Balochistan, the official said.

In 2005, Pakistan had established an inter-agency task force comprising FIA, FC, Coast Guard, Levies forces and police to tackle human trafficking.

"We have only FIA personnel working at the Pak-Iran border crossing in Taftan and the rest of the border is not properly manned," Khan added while explaining the geographical problems faced in curbing human trafficking.

"When arrested, victims also do not cooperate with us to pinpoint the gang of agents," he said.