ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary committee that will meet twice this week will take up the issue of 4,000 Pakistanis jailed in Bosnia who according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) are waiting for an opportunity to flee into Europe instead of returning home.
The Senate Standing Committee on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development was surprised to learn that the illegal Pakistani immigrants preferred to stay jailed hoping that some day they would secure a legal status in Europe.
At its last meeting, MoFA told members that most of the Pakistanis were asylum seekers who tore their passports, even faced extreme hardships in jails and refused voluntary repatriation or any assistance from Pakistani missions.
MoFA was particularly talking about the estimated 4,000 Pakistanis jailed in Jungle Migrants Camp at Vucjak, Bosnia Herzegovina. The camp is about 400 kilometres away from the Pakistani mission.
These Pakistanis are waiting for an opportunity to flee into Europe rather than return home, says ministry
The committee was surprised to learn that the Bosnian government did not have resources to look after the inmates. The exact number of Pakistani immigrants there is still not confirmed.
Nonetheless, the committee argued that its members had been receiving complaints that many Pakistanis were stranded abroad and in need of assistance.
“They are Pakistanis and it is the duty of the government to look after them and bring them home safely,” said chairman of the committee, Hilalur Rehman.
The committee will also look into human trafficking which its members believed was rising, causing embarrassment to the country. The lawmakers had reasons to believe that travel agencies were involved in human trafficking, and directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to take legal action.
About 400 human trafficking cases have been sent by Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis to the FIA for investigation.
The committee members said many licensed travel agencies were involved in human trafficking, selling people to gangs abroad who forced the immigrants to do jobs on meagre salaries.
Similarly, an estimated 50,000 Pakistani immigrants are awaiting repatriation from Turkey.
The committee directed the FIA to lodge cases against travel agents involved in human trafficking and present a report.
The meeting was also informed that 50,000 to 60,000 Pakistanis were also expected to be repatriated from Saudi Arabia.
According to the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation (OPF), these individuals were non-productive and made no significant contributions through foreign remittances.
Published in Dawn, January 6th, 2020