ISLAMABAD - The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has decided to blacklist the passports of 'professional beggars', many of whom were detained at airports in the recent past.
To safeguard Pakistan's international image, FIA Director-General, Mohsin Butt, has issued a directive to all airports, instructing rigorous screening of passengers to prevent these individuals from traveling abroad.
An FIA spokesperson confirmed that a crackdown has been initiated, resulting in the offloading and transfer of 74 passengers from airports nationwide to the FIA Anti-Human Trafficking Circles for further investigation; they were all accused of being beggars.
In the wake of recent events, strict checks of passengers' belongings are now being conducted at airports in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies, Express Tribune reported.
According to a recent report presented in the upper house of parliament, a striking 90% of professional beggars detained in the Middle East are of Pakistani origin.
Many of the pickpockets apprehended at religious sites, including the revered Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia, are also Pakistani nationals.
During a meeting of the Standing Committee on Overseas Pakistanis, concerns were raised about the gravity of the matter and its adverse effects on the reputation of overseas Pakistanis.
Secretary of Overseas Pakistanis, Zulfikar Haider also emphasized that Iraq and Saudi Arabia consistently voice concerns about receiving individuals with criminal backgrounds, exacerbating overcrowded jails in their countries.
It merits mentioning that beggars heading to Saudi Arabia were arrested recently by immigration officials, raising the eyebrows of the lawmakers who were earlier not that cautious regarding the pilgrims heading to the holy land.
FIA had earlier confirmed that cases have been registered against both the accused beggars and the agents, and further investigations are underway.
In a similar operation conducted earlier, a group including children and women was thwarted from departing for Saudi Arabia under the pretext of an Umrah pilgrimage, raising concerns about exploiting religious sentiments for illicit activities.
Though investigations are in process to capture different gangs, an agent named Nuro was identified as having exploited many in this regard. Amongst the arrested, all hailed from Kassowal town in Punjab's Chichawatni tehsil, Sahiwal district.
Pakistani rupee remains stable against US dollar in the open market on February 29, 2024 (Thursday).
In the open market, the US dollar was being quoted at 279.1 for buying and 282.35 for selling.
Euro currently stands at 303 for buying and 306 for selling while British Pound rate stands at 352 for buying, and 355.5 for selling.
UAE Dirham AED hovers at 76 whereas the Saudi Riyal saw slight increase, with new rates at 74.3.
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