For third consecutive year: Pakistan retains spot on US watchlist: report
KARACHI: For the third consecutive year, Pakistan retained its spot on the Tier 2 Watch List of a human trafficking report published by the US State Department on Thursday.
According to the US Trafficking in Persons report 2016 released this week, Pakistan remains a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking.
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“The government did not demonstrate overall increasing anti-trafficking efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, Pakistan is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for the third consecutive year,” the report explained, adding that Islamabad does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking though it is making significant efforts to do so.
However, Pakistan only retained its spot among the 44 nations on the watch list after it was granted a waiver for “devoting sufficient resources to a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute significant efforts to meet the minimum standards”. Without this waiver, Pakistan would have been downgraded back to Tier 3.
Further, during the reporting period Pakistan failed to become a party to the protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime.
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The report said the country’s largest human trafficking problem remains bonded labour, in which an initial debt assumed by a worker as part of the terms of employment is exploited, ultimately entrapping other family members, sometimes for generations. An estimated 2.6 million Pakistanis work in debt bondage.
Further, Pakistan is a destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour—particularly from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Women and girls from Afghanistan, China, Russia, Nepal, Iran, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan are reportedly subjected to sex trafficking in Pakistan.
Furthermore, militant groups kidnap children, buy them from destitute parents, or coerce parents with threats or fraudulent promises into giving their children away who are then forced into spying and fighting in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
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Some feudal landlords and brick kiln owners (where most bonded labourers are engaged) are even affiliated with political parties or hold government positions to protect their involvement in bonded labour.