The Chinese Embassy in Islamabad in response to reports of fake marriages, forced prostitution and organ trade has withheld 90 visas of "Pakistani brides" and launched an investigation into 142 cross-border marriages that took place in 2018, said Lijian Zhao, deputy chief of mission at Chinese Embassy in Islamabad, in an interview with UrduNews.
The interview, published on Tuesday, was conducted in the backdrop of a crackdown against suspected Chinese nationals of their involvement in alleged fake marriages. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has over the past fortnight arrested scores of Chinese nationals and their suspected local abettors from various parts of the country in connection with its investigation into a transnational gang allegedly involved in contracting fake marriages between Chinese men and Pakistani women, who are later forced into prostitution and the illegal organ trade.
“Last year, about 142 Pakistani women applied for wedding visas after marrying Chinese nationals while this year, so far, 140 Pakistani brides have applied for such visas, ” the envoy said, indicating a drastic increase this year. The embassy has withheld at least 90 visa applications and alerted the Pakistani authorities.
Talking about recent reports of abuse, the diplomat denied media reports about Pakistani women being subjected to forced prostitution and organ sale in China.
“Lies are being spread on internet and the media. They are talking about Pakistani girls being sent to China for forced prostitution or sale of organs. That is totally fabricated and for sensational purposes. There is no evidence for that. Prove me if you have that kind of evidence,” he challenged.
He said that out of 142 marriages, only few isolated cases of harassment or torture have been reported. All the marriages, however, were legal and registered after due process.
"All the Chinese men came to Pakistan after obtaining their visas from Pakistani Embassy, then they obtained marriage certificates from union councils and then they approached registrar. In the fourth level, they get [their credentials] verified from the foreign ministry and then they get their documents verified from the Chinese Embassy. In the sixth stage, they apply for visas of their spouses, so all the marriages are legal," he explained.
He added that Chinese authorities were trying to provide a cover and support to the legal marriages.
“We are trying to track if there is any problem. We are ready to help those girls if there is any issue,” he said.
The envoy mentioned a complaint by a Pakistani wife, who wrote a letter to a Pakistani minister complaining that she was subjected to torture. After the letter, he said, the Chinese authorities probed the matter but found no evidence of torture. However, the couple decided to go for divorce after which the Chinese government provided the woman a bullet train ticket and air ticket and she was repatriated on May 2.
Zhao asked the Pakistani government to "review its visa on arrival policy for Chinese businessmen" as some marriage bureaus in Pakistan are "misusing" it.
He said the Pakistani authorities should probe the role of those institutions and chambers of commerce and industries which are inviting fake businessmen who are actually coming to Pakistan in search of wives.
The envoy said that a mechanism has been devised during a recent visit of a Chinese task force to Pakistan, under which any Pakistani can seek help from Chinese authorities via telephone in connection with the marriages.
"The government of China and police will help if there is any problem."
"Probe into the new cases is also underway and if a crime is found, it will not be tolerated and we will support Pakistani law enforcement agencies against those involved. We will not let a few people affect the Pakistan-China friendship."
'We have to protect our girls: SMQ
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday, while talking to reporters, said that local authorities were in contact with Chinese diplomatic officials and were taking steps to resolve the issue of fake marriages.
"We have to protect our girls and we also have to protect our bilateral relations," the minister said.
He said that the two sides wanted to avoid the implications of the problem and also wanted to foil the designs of those powers who were fanning the issue. "The element who wants to affect the bilateral relations between Pakistan and China is also playing a role in this," he said.
"We have to handle both the issues and we are trying to resolve them in an amicable manner."