FO backs China stance, cautions against ‘sensationalising’ case

May 12, 2019

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Lahore: Detained Chinese nationals, allegedly associated with a trafficking gang to lure Pakistani women into fake marriages, try to cover their faces while being escorted by Federal Investigation Agency officers to court on Saturday.—AP
Lahore: Detained Chinese nationals, allegedly associated with a trafficking gang to lure Pakistani women into fake marriages, try to cover their faces while being escorted by Federal Investigation Agency officers to court on Saturday.—AP

ISLAMABAD / LAHORE: As a judicial magistrate in Lahore extended physical remand of 11 Chinese citizens for two more days, the Foreign Office on Saturday said it’s essential to avoid sensationalisation over the bride-trafficking case and report on sensitive matters only on the basis of established facts.

FO spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal in a statement stated that relevant authorities from both the governments of Pakistan and China were in close contact on the issue of actions of the law enforcement agencies in various cities of Pakistan on incidents of “women trafficking” involving Chinese and Pakistani nationals.

Dr Faisal said the government of China had offered all possible cooperation on the issue, which was highly appreciated. “Both sides are closely coordinating their efforts. In this context, a Chinese team visited Pakistan recently and held meetings with our law enforcement officials,” the spokesman said.

Remand of 11 Chinese men extended as FIA seeks time to complete probe

He said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Pakistan missions in China were closely monitoring the situation and extending all possible assistance to Pakistani citizens “who may have any complaints on the subject”.

“We have noted the statement by the Chinese Embassy referring to investigation by the Chinese Ministry of Public Security on the issue. According to this investigation, there is no forced prostitution or sale of human organs of Pakistani women who stay in China after marriage with Chinese nationals,” he added.

In the light of the aforementioned statement, he said, it was essential to avoid sensationalisation and report on sensitive matters only on the basis of established facts. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, all other relevant departments of the government and the Chinese authorities concerned will continue to coordinate on the matter to address the grievances of the affected individuals, bring the culprits to justice, and ensure that such incidents do not recur in the future,” he said.

The spokesman underlined that Pakistan and China were “all-weather strategic cooperative partners”. He said the friendship between the two countries enjoyed strong public and institutional support in both the countries and both sides remained committed to strengthening this abiding friendship and strategic partnership in all dimensions.

On Friday when the Federal Investigation Agency’s immigration staff took into custody two couples and a woman on the charge of bride trafficking and shifted them to FIA’s anti-human trafficking cell for interrogation, the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad issued the statement that a joint Pak-China probe had found no evidence to claims that the women married to Chinese men were being forced into prostitution or organ trade.

The Chinese authorities had reportedly held two meetings with Interior Minister retired Brig Ijaz Ahmad Shah and told him that if someone individually had done anything wrong then it should not be publicised by holding press conferences, because it was giving a bad name to their country.

In Lahore, judicial magistrate extended physical remand of 11 Chinese citizens for two more days as the FIA sought further time to complete the probe into the scam of contracting fake marriages with Pakistani women and allegedly forcing them into prostitution after taking them to China.

The FIA produced the Chinese nationals before the magisterial court while the investigating officer told the court about the progress so far in the case. Speaking in their defence, the suspects denied the charges and said their purpose to visit Pakistan was strictly for business.

The 11 Chinese citizens were arrested on Thursday by the FIA and booked under Section 3/4 of Trafficking in Person Ordinance, 2018, and under Sections 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) and 471 (using as genuine a forged document) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2019