The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has decided to blacklist the passports of professional beggars who tarnish Pakistan’s image by seeking alms in foreign countries.
To prevent these beggars from flying abroad, the agency’s Director-General, Mohsin Butt, has issued a special directive to all airports to conduct thorough screenings of all passengers.
An FIA spokesperson informed Express News that a crackdown has been initiated against such individuals. “Seventy-four passengers from airports across the country have been offloaded and transferred to the FIA Anti-Human Trafficking Circles for further investigation,” he stated.
He added, “Comprehensive screening and profiling of all travelers going on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia are being ensured. Additionally, strict checks of passengers’ belongings are being carried out at airports in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies.”
The FIA director-general has declared that passports of individuals involved in begging in foreign countries will now be blacklisted, he added.
Read More: Pakistani beggars plague Middle East, raising trust concerns
According to a report presented to the upper house of parliament last month, a staggering 90% of professional beggars arrested in the Middle East are of Pakistani origin. Most of the pickpockets arrested from religious sites, including the revered Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia, are also Pakistanis.
During a meeting of the Standing Committee on Overseas Pakistanis, chaired by Senator Manzoor Ahmed Kakar on September 27, Secretary of Overseas Pakistanis, Zulfikar Haider, expressed his frustration over the situation and raised alarm about the lack of action taken to address the issue.
Haider disclosed startling details about the extent of the problem and its impact on the reputation of overseas Pakistanis. “Beggars are leaving Pakistan in large numbers, often traveling by boatloads. They are exploiting Umrah and visiting visas to beg from pilgrims abroad,” Haider revealed.
He went on to express deep concern that prisons in Iraq and Saudi Arabia are now housing a significant number of Pakistani beggars, further tarnishing the image of Pakistanis abroad.
Read More: Authorities urged to act against beggars
One of the most alarming aspects of this phenomenon is the erosion of trust in overseas Pakistanis. Haider lamented that Pakistanis are increasingly viewed with suspicion abroad, leading to a rising number of deportations.
“Iraq and Saudi Arabia continually complain that we are sending criminals to their countries, and their jails are overcrowded with Pakistanis. This is a serious issue of human trafficking,” he asserted.”