New delhi 06.12.2019. 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.