Human smuggling racketeers in Pakistan’s Balochistan make money as Afghans flee homeland

Those running human smuggling rackets are making a killing In Pakistan’s Balochistan province since the Taliban started taking over Afghanistan’s major cities this month

Aug 20, 2021
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Human smuggling racketeers in Pakistan

Those running human smuggling rackets are making a killing In Pakistan’s Balochistan province since the Taliban started taking over Afghanistan’s major cities this month.

Aslam, a resident of  Naukundi - a dusty town in Chaghi district – earns his living by smuggling people between the two countries. He is now busy 24/7 as his mobile phone rings incessantly.

Aslam speaks fluent Dari, Afghanistan’s official language, but with a Balochi accent.

“Seven of my vehicles left Afghanistan for Pakistan this afternoon,” he told Dawn, the respected Pakistani newspaper. “There is no dearth of people coming from Afghanistan these days.”

Like Aslam, other human smugglers in towns bordering Iran and Afghanistan have their hands full.

Those who fled Afghanistan in recent years have blamed ‘insecurity’ as the reason for leaving their country of birth.

Their ranks have swelled over the past fortnight as the Taliban stunned the world with a lighting surge taking one province after another and finally capturing –without facing any resistance - capital Kabul.

Asif, a young jobless Baloch, has set his sights on entering the human -smuggling racket in Chaghi district with the rapid increase in the arrival of immigrants.

“Over the months, the number of Afghans entering Pakistan has grown manifold,” he was quoted as saying . “I want to make hay while the sun shines.”

The deteriorating situation in their country has pushed Afghans to flee to Balochistan in droves. The Chaman-Spin Boldak border crossing is the second busiest entry point for Afghans flocking to Pakistan.

Yousaf, a Tajik from Mazar-i-Sharif province in Afghanistan, took the same route to enter Pakistan before settling down in Quetta, capital of Balochistan.

“Afghans are in a state of anxiety and shock following the abrupt Taliban takeover,” Yousaf said. “The strife has made them homeless within their own country. Life has gone back to the bad old days of the 1990s.”

Qaiser Khan Afridi, a spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office in Pakistan, was all praise for the government and the people of Pakistan for hosting millions of displaced Afghans.

“The UNHCR hopes that Pakistan will keep up its hospitality in case of new arrivals,” he added. “We will extend our support to the government and respond immediately to any plea for assistance. But we haven’t, thank God, seen any exodus from Afghanistan so far.”

According to Afridi, a major influx would require the international community to step up assistance to both Afghanistan and its neighbors.

“Violence and insecurity have forced some 550,000 Afghans to flee the country this year. It must be kept in mind that 65 percent population of Afghanistan comprises children and young people,” he told Dawn.

(SAM)