In less than three months, law enforcement agencies in two different cases in different cities arrested Chinese nationals over charges of human trafficking. In the latest incident, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in Faisalabad acted to stop the smuggling of girls to China. While commenting on the recent arrests, FIA maintained that the suspects had long been involved in trafficking girls to China. A similar case arose in late February this year when a Chinese national was apprehended after the woman accompanying him claimed that her parents had sold her.

Nevertheless, Pakistan should not take these two incidents lightly. The victims of human trafficking are often helpless once they have been taken and are made to face some of the worst conditions a human can imagine.

Given that Chinese will come to Pakistan in large numbers once China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) starts operations, new challenges of law and order will emerge. Human trafficking is one such challenge. Therefore, it is imperative for law enforcement agencies to be extra vigilant on this front. At the same time when Pakistani authorities need to be on their toes, China also needs to go an extra mile in deterring such elements and groups that are involved in the illegal practice of human smuggling.

It will be more appropriate for both states to come up with a joint mechanism regarding the law enforcement challenges that will emerge, as the citizens of the two nations will exchange visits after CPEC becomes fully operational. Probably, the two countries have given the least consideration to the law and order issues that will emerge in the wake of CPEC working full throttle. However, for now, the two sides need to take appropriate action to bust this ring not only for the sake of the trafficked people but also for keeping the bilateral ties free of controversies.