ISLAMABAD: A Senate committee claimed on Thursday that it was possible that “foreign hands” were using claims that Pakistani women were being trafficked to China for prostitution and the organ trade to create a rift between China and Pakistan.

The Senate Standing Committee on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development met at Parliament Lodges to discuss the recent scandal of Chinese men marrying Pakistani women with ill intentions.The meeting was chaired by Senator Shaheen Khalid Butt because its regular chair, Senator Hilalur Rehman, was not present.

Foreign Office officials invited to the meeting told the senators that reports of Chinese men marrying Pakistani women were accurate but the Pakistan embassy in China had not yet received complaints from any Pakistani women alleging they were forced into prostitution. They also said no cases of organs being sold had been reported to the embassy.

Committee on Overseas Pakistanis seeks briefing from FIA, interior

Imtiaz Gondal from the Foreign Office said 12 cases were reported to the Pakistani embassy in which women registered complaints about being mistreated by their in-laws. He said 10 of these women had returned to Pakistan.

Foreign Office Director General Samina Mehtab said it was her personal view that Pakistani women who had recently married Chinese men were having difficulty adjusting to the Chinese culture.

The Foreign Office and Overseas Pakistanis ministry officials said these allegations were currently being dealt with by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the Ministry of Interior.

The senators were informed that 57 people, Pakistanis and Chinese nationals, had been arrested in Pakistan, and most of them had been released.

The committee decided to seek briefings from the FIA and the interior ministry at its next meeting.

Senators Molvi Faiz Mohammad and Mirza Mohammad Afridi said all aspects of the alleged scandal needed to be looked into. They claimed that there were chances that foreign elements who did not want to see stronger China-Pakistan relations may be spreading propaganda to sabotage the ties.

Senator Sassui Palijo sought a comprehensive briefing at the next meeting so lawmakers have a true picture of the situation. She said conflicting stories of the scandal are being discussed, and members should be given a proper briefing.

In May, the FIA held scores of Chinese nationals and Pakistani partners for their alleged involvement in fake marriages used to traffic Pakistani women to China for organ removal and sexual exploitation.

An FIA team also raided houses in Lahore where they arrested nine Chinese men, a woman and three local accomplices and rescued two Pakistani brides. The FIA also made arrests in Faisalabad, Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

The FIA swung into action after allegations that some Chinese nationals were involved in the sexual exploitation and organ trade of Pakistani women taken to China as brides. Most of the alleged victims were from poor families, Christian and from various cities in Punjab.

Quoting the FIA at a recent Senate Standing Committee on Interior meeting, its chair Senator Rehman Malik said three priests were also involved in these cases. He said they had been arrested by the FIA, adding more than 150 young women were allegedly taken to China last year.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2019