Ship Sinking off Greek Coast Highlights Why Pakistanis Want to Risk Lives to Leave Country


Pakistan held a day of mourning, and its leaders’ promised justice, for the loss of lives in a trawler off the coast of Greece but unless the state improves the economic situation back home, nothing will really change. Human trafficking in Pakistan continues to thrive and it is critical that the Pakistani state takes actions.


The tragedy is not just the loss of lives but that Pakistanis were forced to occupy the most dangerous part of the vessel and singled out for maltreatment. The ill-fated vessel was carrying 800 people, of whom 400 were Pakistanis when it capsized in the Mediterranean Sea.


As an editorial in Dawn stated, every year thousands of Pakistanis fall prey to human traffickers. “Suffering hunger and thirst, dodging bullets from border patrols, many die on the way; some are kidnapped for ransom by criminal gangs in Iran and Turkiye. Another means of illegal passage is the ‘Libyan route’ which entails crossing the Mediterranean under incredibly dangerous and squalid circumstances.”


Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah promised an investigation into the catastrophe. However, this trafficking “happens under the very nose of the authorities: the various routes and modus operandi have even been reported on ad nauseam in the media. For, while it is an organised crime on a global scale, every ‘national’ component of migrant smuggling is sustained by an elaborate network with multiple stakeholders.”


Dawn concludes by noting, “it is that ruling elite of this country that is responsible for collectively creating such a loss of hope that it is driving young people out of Pakistan on treacherous journeys towards greener pastures, no matter the hellish experiences they must endure to reach them.”


Author: Alia Khan