GILGIT: Lured by a job but trapped in forced labour, 44 Pakistanis have been rescued and brought back home from the Southeast Asian country Laos, where they had been working for as many as 13 hours a day in jail-like conditions.
The citizens, all men, were coaxed by a fake hiring company into lucrative jobs in Laos and were trapped and forced to do illegal jobs like using fake social media accounts to trap innocent girls for unethical purposes.
GB Home Secretary Iqbal Hussain Khan told Dawn on Thursday some of these “detained” Pakistanis, 24 of whom were from Gilgit-Baltistan, approached the GB home department through the internet in August and informed it about the situation.
The department was told that the 44 citizens were in miserable conditions, with their passports confiscated by agents of the fake company that took them to Laos.
The men were taken to Laos under the guise of employment as Chinese interpreters, but after reaching that country, they were forced to do illegal and heinous work.
The company literally imprisoned them in a building and compelled them to use fake social media accounts to persuade innocent girls into unethical jobs.
Besides, they were subjected to torture if they failed to complete their work, which they were forced to do at meager wages for 13 hours a day, the GB home secretary said.
The company officials used to demand a huge amount of money if they were requested by the citizens to send them back to Pakistan.
They travelled to Laos from various locations in Pakistan and at different times.
Mr Khan said he took up the matter with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On being informed about the case, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Vietnam Samina Mehtab immediately visited neighbouring Laos to sort out the matter. She also coordinated with Chinese and Thailand officials to resolve the matter.
Subsequently, all these stranded Pakistanis were rescued and brought to Pakistan in the first week of October, Mr Khan said. He urged all Pakistani citizens planning to work in a foreign country to be extremely cautious and cross-check everything to avoid falling prey to fraudsters.