Like human trafficking, smuggling migrants is a crime that is affecting nearly all countries across the globe, whether in terms of origin, destination or as transit route. Migrant smuggling is procurement, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit, from the illegal entry of a person into a state of which the person is not a national or a permanent resident, as defined by United Nations Office on Drug Control (UNODC).
The incidence of irregular migration is greatly a South Asia and South West Asian phenomenon and is nothing new to Pakistan. Distinguishing between irregular migrants and Pakistanis is difficult due to the lack of adequate data on Pakistani citizens in the countrys border regions.
The latest thematic study by UNODP on migrant smuggling in Asia shows that most of the destinations where migrants are smuggled from Pakistan include UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the European Union, depending on the price they are willing to pay. Majority of those who want to leave the country illegally, are from KPK, Northern Punjab and Karachi.
In terms of incoming migrants, the study shows that besides Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar, migrants are the countries from where the highest numbers of illegal immigrants come to Pakistan.
To top it off, those involved in this heinous crime are engaged in fraudulent methods. Whether it is the documentation or actual transportation via sea, air or land, the smuggling network emanates corruption yet professionalism. The payment system is informal but a well-developed mechanism which involves lump sum payment as well as third party installment modes.
Migrant smuggling has become a pervasive, profitable and fatal business. Amongst some of the emerging trends that have caught attention include the money that the illegal business makes. As these crimes become more and more organised, the smugglers are solidifying their networks, becoming a big part of the global organised crime networks.
Besides being indebted with the financial burden of illegal migration, irregular migrants are, many at times, a victim of critical actions of the criminals. Incidents of suffocation in containers, camel jockeying and slavery have become the fate of many while taking up this shortcut to a better life.