The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) intensified its crackdown against professional beggars internationally, including blacklisting the passports of individuals caught begging overseas.
The decisive action highlights the government’s commitment to curbing the exploitation of travel privileges and addressing the burgeoning issue of international beggary.
To ensure the integrity of international travel, FIA’s Director-General, Mohsin Butt, announced comprehensive screening protocols at all national airports. Butt emphasized the offloading of 74 passengers for further inquiry into their travel purposes, underscoring the FIA’s determination in this crackdown.
The agency’s Anti-Human Trafficking Circles are set to conduct these in-depth investigations. Particularly under scrutiny are Umrah pilgrims, whose travel history reports are now mandatory for travel clearance.
In collaboration with various law enforcement agencies, the FIA has bolstered the examination of passengers’ belongings, reinforcing security measures at points of departure. These stringent checks prevent potential offenders from exploiting religious pilgrimages for begging activities abroad.
Blacklisting and Broadened Investigations
Amidst these tightened security protocols, the FIA is taking severe measures against those tarnishing the country’s image internationally. Individuals found begging in foreign countries will face serious repercussions, including having their passports blacklisted. The move comes as part of a broader crackdown following disturbing statistics indicating a high percentage of professional beggars in the Middle East originating from Pakistan.
This rigorous approach extended to a recent incident in October, where 24 individuals, disguised as Umrah pilgrims, were offloaded at Multan airport on suspicion of intending to beg in Saudi Arabia. Investigations revealed a nexus between these travellers and certain travel agencies, whereby the earnings from begging were to be shared.
The crackdown’s impetus was a concerning report submitted to parliament, highlighting the disturbing presence of Pakistani nationals in begging and petty crime syndicates in sacred sites abroad, including Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mosque. The FIA’s escalated efforts respond to these revelations, signalling Pakistan’s zero-tolerance approach to activities that compromise its international standing.