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Teenaged girls trafficked to the Mideast

ISLAMABAD: The irony is chilling. Even before they could bloom into flowers, teenaged flower-selling girls are being trafficked to some Middle East countries ostensibly for employment but only to be used for physical pleasure.

The poor girls, who sell flowers on Islamabad roads, are being trafficked on passports bearing fake names by a new racket as startling details of the ordeal of one such girl reaches before the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP).

A case involving the trafficking of girls selling flowers in search of a good life in Dubai, is currently being investigated under the newly-enacted Women’s Protection Act. The case may develop into a thorny diplomatic issue between the UAE and Pakistan even as Islamabad police attempts to get the girl beggar repatriated to Pakistan.

The girl was sent there on a fake identity card and passport. The case has now taken a new turn after three male and one female accused under police custody have given shocking details about the racket, active on the streets and roads of the twin cities.

The racket targets poor innocent girls, who labour to feed their hungry families living in the suburbs of the capital city, to use them for prostitution in Middle East countries after luring them with the idea of a comfortable life in foreign countries.

Islamabad police have confirmed to `The News’ that after directions from Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, they have made significant progress in the case and have already arrested four accused including a “madam” of this gang, who adopted unique methods to transport these girls after breaching the so-called sophisticated systems of Nadra and passport departments by getting their fake identity cards and machine readable passports.

However, at this stage of investigation, it is not known how many girls have been trafficked, though, police working on this racket fear many more such cases are likely to surface. Initial investigations show the gang, hailing from Narowal and Sheikupura districts, has targeted girls of Islamabad wondering on the roads to sell flowers or beg.

Meanwhile, investigations conducted by this correspondent show the case surfaced after a suo moto notice taken by the Chief Justice in the light of an application made by Muhammad Qasim, son of Rajwali, resident of Dhok Naju Rawalpindi.

The applicant himself is a crippled beggar and lives in the slum areas of Dhok Hasoo with his wife, Kausar Parveen, and children, Shazia, 13, and Muhammad Qasid, 11, in the jurisdiction of Sabzi Mandi Police Station, Islamabad.

The sole source of earning for this family was begging in Islamabad while Qasim’s elder daughter, Nazia, 18, used to sell flowers at busy crossings in Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Earlier, the applicant alleged that Nazia was kidnapped and transported to the UAE for prostitution. The chief justice sought a report from the Islamabad police asking the IGP Islamabad to investigate the case.

Consequently, a case was registered at the Islamabad police station Sabzi Mandi (FIR No. 22, dated 29.01.2007, under section 371-A /34 of Women Protection Act 2006). A police team under the supervision of SP Investigation Ashfaq Ahmad Khan was constituted consisting of DSP Jamil Hashmi and Inspector Khurshid Khan, SHO Sabzi Mandi to investigate the case.

The team, during preliminary interrogation, found that Nazia was abducted by an accused Akhtar Parveen alias Peno, Rafaqat Bhatti, Allah Rakha alias Sataro and Anis alias Heera, and was trafficked to the UAE, Ahmad recounted.

The main accused Parveen lured the young flower vender to Muridke, a town near Lahore, impersonating her as real sister under the name Shama. She, later, took Nazia to Nadra centre and got her a CNIC as Shama, daughter of her (Perveen’s) own father Muhammad Shafi. Later, Nazia was issued passport on the basis of this fake CNIC. She was sent abroad and was sold for prostitution in Dubai.

DSP Jamil Hashmi told `The News’ the Peeno sent Nazia and another young girl Nasreen alias Kakko hailing from Muridke with the changed name of Shama (Nazia) and Sumaira (Kakko) were on agreements of Rs25,000 per month each.

“The racket has smuggled about 40 young girls to the Middle East for prostitution,” Hashmi added. The police arrested all the nominated accused – Rafaqat, resident of District Narowal, Parveen, Anees Ahmed and Allah Rakha r/o District Sheikhupura.

The gang members, during questioning, confessed Nazia was enticed by Parveen when she used to sell flowers in Saddar area and district courts area of Rawalpindi. A Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) official said the Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking Ordinance (PACHTO) 2002 empowers the agency to enforce the ordinance and break into the nets of human smugglers and traffickers.

After the completion of remand with Islamabad Police, the FIA may transfer the accused to their own cells for in-depth investigation. The case may also be eventually transferred to the FIA.

Director General FIA Tariq Pervez said the agency would pay for the repatriation of the young girl after the case is transferred. “According to PACHTO 2002, the police cannot take the case further,” the DG said before adding the SCP has ordered the police to investigate the case.

The FIA would lodge an FIR against the racketeers under PACHTO 2002 and bust the gangs involved in the crime of trafficking young girls for prostitution, the FIA chief added. SSP Islamabad Sikandar Hayat, when contacted, observed the busting of the racket was a major breakthrough. “We complied with the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in getting clue of the missing girl,” he said.

“Combating human trafficking is beyond our jurisdiction,” Hayat said adding, to block such organized rackets fell under the purview of the FIA. The police would seek help from the FIA in recovering the girl, the SSP said. A letter has been sent to the UAE authorities for her extradition. The Islamabad police have close coordination with ATU (anti-trafficking unit) of the FIA

Source: The News

Date:2/15/2007

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