Pakistan deboards 16 ‘beggars’ from Saudi Arabia-bound flight

According to the FIA, the group comprising 11 women, four men, and a child was travelling on Umrah visas

Islamabad: Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) offloaded 16 alleged beggars in the disguise of Umrah pilgrims from a Saudi Arabia-bound flight at the Multan airport two days ago, local media reported.

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According to the FIA, the group, consisting of 16 persons, including a child, 11 women and four men, was initially travelling on Umrah visas.

The FIA officials during the immigration process questioned the passengers who confessed that they were going to visit Saudi Arabia to seek alms, Dawn reported.

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They also revealed that they would have to give half of their earnings from begging to the agents involved in their travel arrangements. They were to return to Pakistan after the expiry of their Umrah visas. The FIA Multan Circle arrested the passengers for further questioning and legal action, Dawn reported.

The arrests came a day after the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development disclosed to the Senate Committee on Overseas Pakistanis that a significant proportion of beggars are trafficked abroad through illegal channels.

The Ministry’s Secretary revealed to the Senate panel that a staggering 90 per cent of beggars apprehended in foreign countries belong to Pakistan.

“Both the Iraqi and Saudi Ambassadors have reported overcrowded jails due to these arrests,” he had said, Dawn reported.

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