Small victory no doubt

The US State Department has improved Pakistan’s ranking for its management of human trafficking. Although remaining in tier 2 for making efforts towards mitigating the crime and avoiding sanctions if moved to tier 3, the country has been removed from the watch list. The efforts include a revised legal framework with the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act of 2018 and the Prevention of Smuggling of Migrants Act of 2018. This is a small victory. However, while we note the legal framework established to combat the crime, we urge the State Department to watch closely as to whether we implement the newly formed laws. Often, it is only when an outsider watches us with scrutiny that we tend to work actively and earnestly. Otherwise, complacence sets in.

Devastating stories about illegal migrants dying in accidents have included Pakistanis who desperately leave the country with the hopes of a better life in Europe. Indubitably, the people and agencies that falsely promise greener pastures and endanger lives require immediate legal action to save unsuspecting migrants from harm. It took four years for Pakistan to establish a plan for handling human trafficking, during which hundreds of Pakistanis lost their lives. In 2017, approximately 6,800 illegal migrants entered Europe — that is, 6,800 lives that were at potential risk of death. With Pakistan’s economy still in dire straits, human trafficking is poised to increase. Therefore, enforcement of the new laws will be momentous for Pakistan to control the situation.

Greater accountability for transgressing the law is also a pivotal factor in easing trafficking. Being able to abscond the law has encouraged too many criminals out of Pakistan. Along with vigilant security in Gujranwala, Gujrat, the hub of trafficking, the FIA will need to maintain recordkeeping to battle the third-most lucrative globally organised crime so that Pakistan can improve in ranking.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2018.

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