In Pakistan, every new day unravels a new scandal. This time, a story has broken out regarding the involvement of Federal Investigative Agency (FIA) officials in human smuggling. The FIA officials collaborated with the employees of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to smuggle Afghan nationals to England, the report of FIA submitted before the interior ministry, and the Establishment Division maintains.

Sadly and quite ironically, the officials working in the ‘Anti-Human Trafficking Cell’ did not respond to the complaint, which was submitted to it after 20 Afghan nationals were caught at Heathrow airport. The refusal of the relevant cell to take any action in itself should have constituted a crime. The refusal to entertain the complaint means that there is a network within FIA that is in collaboration with the human smugglers. While the report holds the then FIA director Inam Ghani for facilitating the human smuggling, it is unbelievable that he alone was behind the crime. The law enforcement agencies should take prompt action against the accused person. A quick action against him will help in uncovering the whole network within the FIA.

While the FIA, in the past, maintained that due to their efforts the human smuggling declined, the recent report that blames officials within the institution snatches away any credence from the claims of the officials. The scandal highlights Pakistan’s vulnerability as one of the top sources of human smuggling in the world. Last year, the US State Department’s Trafficking in Person Report placed Pakistan in tier 2 watch-list, a category specified for the states that fail in providing evidence of increasing efforts to combat several forms of trafficking in persons from the previous years.

The reputation of FIA, as its employees are involved in such a heinous crime, is at stake. It is possible that FIA can overcome all the challenges it faces in its fight against human trafficking, but if there are rogue elements in the institution then it is really difficult to see a Pakistan free of human trafficking. Now we understand that it is not just the shortage of human resource, infrastructure and weak laws that make it difficult to bring the heinous crime of human smuggling to a halt. The reason that it is still going on is that the smugglers have found collaborators within FIA who for material gains assist them.

The government needs to carry out a comprehensive investigation to find out the network within the rank and file of FIA. The next step after an investigation that the government will be required to take will be not just expulsion of these rogue elements from the department but also initiating criminal charges against them.