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Pakistanis deported from Oman arrive in Karachi

Government allows them to enter only after their plight was highlighted in media

Gulf News

Muscat: Exploited by unscrupulous recruiting agents, more than 500 Pakistani nationals had a tough time re-entering their own country after being deported in a wooden boat from Oman.

According to reports in the Pakistan media, the government allowed 500 plus deportees to enter Karachi only after their plight was highlighted by television news channels in Pakistan.

The Oman authorities had deported the illegal immigrants from Pakistan in an old wooden boat — Al Basit. When the boat reached closer to the Pakistan, the authorities initially didn’t allow the boat to enter their territorial waters.

The media in Pakistan highlighted the plight of the stranded Pakistanis. The government then decided to allow the boat to come to Ghass Bander port in Karachi.

Babar Ghauri, a Federal Minister, told local media that the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) will take care of the Pakistanis at the port in Karachi.

Rehman Domki, who is in charge of FIA at Ghass Bander, said that all the arrangements to receive deported Pakistanis have been finalised.

One of the deportees, Iqbal Shaikh, told Geo News channel in Pakistan, said that several of the deportees had taken ill during their journey from Oman that started last Friday.

“The stock of medicine on the boat was also exhausted,” he alleged.

According to another deportee they were sent back after one month in prison after being held during one of the crackdowns by Royal Oman police (ROP) and Manpower Ministry against illegal residents in Oman.

“We had paid around 30 to 40,000 Pakistani rupees{Dh1,160-1,549) to agents to reach Oman illegally,” a deportee told a local television news channel.

Unscrupulous recruiting agents exploit the poor and send them to Gulf countries illegally by the sea route and Oman’s 1,600-km long coast line is exploited by human traffickers to drop them off at night under the cover of darkness.The modus operandi is to take these illegal immigrants on foot across the Pakistan border to Iran. From Bander Abbas they are packed in boats and sailed to Oman for a fee ranging from 20 to 40,000 Pakistani rupees.

At the beginning of the century, the problem had become so that Oman had deported over 35,000 illegal Pakistani nationals by boat between 2000 and 2005.

Then followed a tripartite efforts between Oman, Pakistan and Iran to curb the menace and the trafficking slowed down but it has not stopped completely as hundreds of unsuspecting poor people still take a chance to search for employment in the Gulf.