Mehak Perwaiz takes her wedding vows with Song Guoqing at a marriage hall in Lahore in 2018 Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The Pakistan government has warned people against a mafia involved in ‘fake’ marriages of Chinese men with Pakistani girls.

The Chinese Embassy in Islamabad has issued a statement urging caution against unlawful matchmaking centres involved in these marriages to earn profit.

According to reports, the Pakistan government has launched a crackdown on the illegal matchmaking centres. They lure poor Pakistani girls, especially Christian girls to marry Chinese men who are either visiting or working in Pakistan.

They produce fake documents of Chinese men showing them either as Christians or Muslims. They then find poor girls mainly from the Christian community to marry them by offering money and promises of ‘good life’. However, many girls reportedly became vicitms of human trafficking and forced into prostitution.

Talking to Gulf News, a Dubai-based Pakistani Christian community leader Rev Johan Qadir condemned the practice and said various churches in Pakistan have already launched awareness campaign amongst the Christian community warning them against illegal marriages.

Illegal matchmakers put up banners in Youhanabad, the largest Christian locality in Lahore, to advertise Chinese marriage proposals.

“The government should launch a crackdown and save lives of the poor girls who are easily lured with promises of a comfortable life but actually they are trapped and trafficked to China,” he said.

He said the illegal matchmakers make fake certificates or affidavits for Chinese men showing them as Christian and bachelors and trap poor girls to marry them. “We request Prime Minister Imran Khan to take serious notice of this exploitation of the poor girls as many of them are forced into prostitution after their weddings.

The scam exposed

A report revealed that middlemen trapped Pakistani girls by promising them Rs40,000 (Dh1050) monthly besides mobile phones and Chinese visas. A TV channel also aired images of several Chinese men with Pakistani women, including two teenage girls, at an illegal matchmaking center in Lahore.

Thousands of Chinese are now living in Pakistan since the launch of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CEPEC) project in 2015. Many of them have even bought houses and cars in the country.

Some Chinese men have ulterior motives behind marrying Pakistani girls as they take them to China after marriage and force them into prostitution and even sell their organs.

The local facilitators told the TV channel they would lure families into an agreement by saying their would-be Chinese son-in-law was seeking Pakistani citizenship so he could invest in the country as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

Banners for weddings

Roadside banners and posters can also been seen in Youhanabad—the largest Christian locality – in Lahore, inviting families to marry their girls with Chinese.

The banners read: “Long live Pak-China friendship! Attention honorable Christians. Proposals of deserving, poor and good families are urgently required for China. Chinese family will bear all expenses. Education is not a problem.”

Chinese Embassy response

However, Chinese Embassy in Islamabad refutes reports of human trafficking of Pakistani girls and the sale of organs. But the statement did warn against illegal marriages.

The Chinese Embassy statement reads: Both China and Pakistan adopt rule of law and firmly oppose human trafficking and sales of human organs.

Chinese groom drinking milk as part of the traditional Pakistani wedding ceremony.

The above-mentioned reports about sales of organs are misleading and groundless. We notice that recently some unlawful matchmaking centers made illegal profits from brokering cross-national marriages. Both Chinese and Pakistani youths are victims of these illegal agents.

Chinese laws and regulations strictly prohibit cross-national matchmaking centers. No individual is allowed to engage in any form of such activity by deception or for profit. The Chinese government also strictly prohibits any organisation or individual from buying or selling human organs in any form, or engaging in such activities. For those who constitute a crime, criminal responsibility shall be investigated in accordance with the law.

China is cooperating with Pakistani law enforcement agencies to crack down on illegal matchmaking centers.

We remind both Chinese and Pakistani citizens to remain vigilant and not to be cheated. We also welcome valuable clues to combat such offenses. At the same time, it is hoped that reports should be based on the facts. We hope that the public do not believe in misleading information and work together to safeguard China-Pakistan friendship.”

Pakistan action

While briefing Pakistani lawmakers at one of the recent meetings, senior government officials reportedly said Islamabad was in close contact with Beijing about fake marriages and action was being taken to counter the practice.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said: “Some private marriage bureaus were involved in these marriages and most of the complaints were being received from Lahore and Abbottabad.