ABDUL Ghaffar, a Tehsildar (local official), was recently posted to Nushki, a town southwest of Quetta.
The N-40 highway, known locally as the Quetta-Taftan highway, connects Lakpass, Quetta, to Taftan, a town on the border with Iran. This route is used by Pakistanis, mostly from the Punjab, to get to Iran.
They travel in pickups, buses and cars to towns in western Balochistan that border Iran.
Ghaffar was transferred to Nushki from Chaghi, one of the largest districts in the country in terms of area.
He once waved a blue Zamyad vehicle, known locally as the Zambad, at the Galangoor checkpoint on the Quetta-Taftan highway. The vehicle was crowded with about twenty people. A mat was spread over their heads.
This checkpoint in Galangoor, a mountainous place in the Nushki district, is one of the most notorious points occupied by the Levies. But this time the place offers good news.
The Zambad was decorated in the style of cars and vans carrying wedding feasts. But the decoration, the music and the beating of the drums were not enough to confuse the staff at Levies. Tehsildar Ghaffar suddenly noticed that there was no woman in the vehicle.
âHow can a marriage be made up exclusively of men? He wondered aloud. âGo after him,â he shouted to his colleagues. They caught up with the vehicle after about five kilometers and rounded up the 20 people from the Punjab who intended to cross into Iran illegally.
A number of smugglers were among them. But for Ghaffar, this was nothing new. He had also caught such vehicles in the past.
The humble Tehsildar, a man of substance, is proud of his work even though he has accumulated very little material goods.
âUnlike the other Tehsildars in my province, I still don’t own a bungalow in Quetta,â he says braggingly.
Heaven on earth
The story of people from the Punjab trying to enter Iran illegally through Balochistan in search of a paradise in Europe is nevertheless heartbreaking.
During my time as a reporter in Lahore, I used to hear endless accounts from my colleagues about people risking their lives and their bodies to tread the soil of a European country.
Sultan Afridi is a retired deputy director of the Federal Investigation Agency. He has led the FIA’s anti-trafficking operation on several occasions.
Under his command, the agency cracked down on human trafficking. In one case, they arrested 18 officers.
Talk to Dawn, he attributes the success of the operations to three former FIA chiefs: Tariq Khosa, Tariq Pervez and Mohib Assad. All, he said, deserve praise for putting the FIA ââon the right track.
“In a short time, we crushed the smuggling network by arresting 18 notorious agents following complaints about an alarming increase in illegal emigration,” he recalled. “The arrival of illegal immigrants from Pakistan to European countries brought a bad reputation to the country.”
In 2002, former President Pervez Musharraf promulgated the Ordinance on the Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking.
A clause in the ordinance read: “Anyone who plans or executes a plan to smuggle human beings to or from the country to gain advantage, abusive entertainment, slavery, forced labor or adoption would be punished. ” imprisonment for up to seven years and a fine. “
During a visit to an FIA-run detention center in Taftan, I spoke to Sajjad, who was arrested in Iran during a crackdown on illegal immigrants. According to him, Iranian security officials beat him mercilessly, breaking his left hand.
âMy destination was Spain because a number of my relatives and acquaintances settled there,â he said. âMy family paid for my travel and other expenses.
According to an FIA official, once an individual from a village or small town manages to enter a European country, he becomes a role model for others at home.
According to some estimates, the number of illegal immigrants handed over by Iranian authorities to Pakistan each year is between 10,000 and 12,000.
Mr. Afridi called the racketeering a “crime of consent” because no smuggling can take place without the consent of both parties.
Posted in Dawn, le 28 August 2021