International

629 Pakistanis sold as brides in China

FILE - In this May 11, 2019 file photo, detained Chinese nationals, accused of involvement in a trafficking gang to lure Pakistani women into fake marriages, try to shield their faces while they are escorted by Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency officers to court in Lahore, Pakistan. The Associated Press has obtained a list, compiled by Pakistani investigators determined to break up trafficking networks, that identifies hundreds of girls and women from across Pakistan who were sold as brides to Chinese men and taken to China. But the biggest case against traffickers fell apart in October, when a court in Faisalabad acquitted 31 Chinese nationals charged in connection with trafficking. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary, File)

FILE - In this May 11, 2019 file photo, detained Chinese nationals, accused of involvement in a trafficking gang to lure Pakistani women into fake marriages, try to shield their faces while they are escorted by Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency officers to court in Lahore, Pakistan. The Associated Press has obtained a list, compiled by Pakistani investigators determined to break up trafficking networks, that identifies hundreds of girls and women from across Pakistan who were sold as brides to Chinese men and taken to China. But the biggest case against traffickers fell apart in October, when a court in Faisalabad acquitted 31 Chinese nationals charged in connection with trafficking. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary, File)  

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Govt. pressure has curtailed probe as it doesn’t want to hurt ties with Beijing

A total of 629 girls and women from across Pakistan were sold as brides to Chinese men and taken to China. The list, obtained by Associated Press, was compiled by Pakistani investigators determined to break up trafficking networks exploiting the country’s poor and vulnerable. The list gives the most concrete figure yet for the number of women caught up in the trafficking schemes since 2018.

But since the time it was put together in June, investigators’ aggressive drive against the networks has largely ground to a halt, largely because of pressure from government officials fearful of hurting Pakistan’s lucrative ties to Beijing.

The biggest case against traffickers has fallen apart. In October, a court in Faisalabad acquitted 31 Chinese nationals charged in connection with trafficking. Several of the women, who had initially been interviewed by police, refused to testify because they were either threatened or bribed into silence, according to a court official and a police investigator. The two spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared retribution for speaking out.

At the same time, the government has sought to curtail investigations, putting “immense pressure” on officials pursuing trafficking networks, said Saleem Iqbal, an activist who has helped parents rescue several young girls from China.

Asked about the complaints, Pakistan’s interior and foreign ministries refused to comment.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 9:03:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/629-pakistanis-sold-as-brides-in-china/article30169685.ece

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