The Constitution of Pakistan prohibits slavery and forced labor, and asserts the inviolability of dignity of man and the equality of all citizens; however, current domestic law does not specifically address the two different issues of human smuggling and human trafficking . The Government of Pakistan does not yet fully meet the minimum standards as the Government has made insufficient efforts to combat human trafficking and Smuggling. It has been argued that this might be due to pervasive corruption, lack of information and data on the problem, as well as a severe lack of resources.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan had given serious observations in its judgment 2015 SCMR 1795 against government agencies like FIA, Customs and border securities forces. The court observed that “there was an alarming lack of diligence on the part of Government in relation to immigration into Pakistan, emigration from Pakistan, human trafficking and smuggling at our borders.” The court had passed remarks that “the performance of the government departments appears moribund and the borders of Pakistan appear to be unmonitored.”

Courts verdicts are legally viewed as the state’s position and commitment and dedication towards as these decisions will have serious repercussions. These observations will have international legal implications in this context as well. The contemporary international norms take these observations in differently. The verdict, order and observations of the courts are viewed as acts of the state since they are an integral part of the state. Under international law, sovereign states need to bear the burden of such orders and judgments. In the light of the observations given by the judiciary in this judgment, when linked with UN laws, the state will be viewed as failing to perform its obligations under domestic and international law.

It’s a question mark on the administration of the state and its allied departments. These judicial observations/findings can be used internationally against Pakistan as sovereign state. The democratic state scenario of Pakistan is completely depended upon its legislative and enforcement mechanism. It is therefore in necessary for the Federal Government to render appropriate assistance to all judicial, executive and legislative forums about the international legal implications of performing their judicial, executive and legislative duties in the light of international laws as state organs. The Government of Pakistan should seriously take up all these issues in the cabinet, in compliance of Supreme Court judgment and respond to it legally. There has to be comprehensive legislation in the light of court’s observations, in compliance with international conventions.

Since the 18th Amendment’s provision of provincial autonomy, separate provincial legislation on human trafficking and smuggling is required in compliance with the international conventions. No single legislative framework has been set out by any of the provincial governments to tackle the issue of trafficking and smuggling, including Treaty Compliance Cell-TCC. Now in future, the compliance issues of these international conventions are more in the hand of the Provincial Governments rather than the Federal Government. Therefore the Federal Government should set up an International Treaties and Conventions Compliance Cell and watch the efforts of Provincial Governments’ Treaties Compliance Cell to curb human trafficking crimes.

Only the issue of bonded labour, which is one of the kinds of trafficking in Pakistan, has been legislated on. The Federal government enacted the Bonded Labour System (abolition) Act 1992, under which the provinces were to enact the same to prohibit bonded labour in the country. Punjab took the lead, giving legislative effect to the Act in 1992, followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhawa in 2015. The Punjab government has also recently enacted “The Punjab Prohibition of Child Labour at Brick Kilns Act 2016” in an effort to curb the practice of child labour at brick kilns, and take strict measures against violators. Sindh passed the Bonded Labour Systems (Abolition) Bill in 2015 which has received assent by the Sindh Government but has not yet been enacted. Baluchistan has failed to take any measures.

Apart, from tackling the issue of bonded labour of children at brick kilns, the Federal and Provincial governments, disregarding Article 11(3) of the Constitution, which prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 in any factory or mine or any other hazardous employment, have failed to take measures to prohibit child labour in fisheries, mines, and various other banned occupations provided in the Employment of Children Act 1991.

The Government of Punjab despite having passed the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1992, and the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Rules, 1995, has failed to comply with the prohibition. Estimates find over 1.8 million brick kiln workers in bonded labour, which has still been found to exist in the hand-woven carpet industry, agriculture, brick kiln work, cotton-seed production, and tanning and mines industries. The informal nature of the sectors within which bonded labour exists causes the manipulation of workers. The Provincial Governments have to make legislation on these issues as well.

Both the Federal and Provincial governments are carelessly disregarding their international obligations by neglecting to enact two pending draft laws; the act to Prevent and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children 2013 and to Combat the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air 2013.

The bare reading of these two drafts shows that the proposed legislations on human trafficking do not address the required definition of human smuggling and trafficking. The drafts need more substantial amendments under the preview of the “3P” paradigm—prosecution, protection and prevention. To combat human smuggling and trafficking, special Courts may be constituted to deal vigorously with trafficking crimes.

Pakistan, furthermore, is failing to remove itself from the Tier 2 watch list of the US State Department. This may result in triggering sanctions such as limiting access to aid from the United States, the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank. Four straight years on the Tier 2 Watch List may trigger an automatic downgrade to Tier 3 unless Pakistan earns a waiver or an upgrade. It is becoming an absolute necessity for Pakistan to remove its existence from the watch list in order to gain support from the United Nations and European Union.

The current state of trafficking of humans in our country is resulting in a drain of resources and the existence of established smuggling and trafficking routes may lead to increased terrorism and drug routes, as they can easily be used to move illegal drugs and members of extremist organisations without a legal footprint. The human rights issue is always prime and important and Pakistan has given it firm baking by signing international conventions on human rights and others international treaties. The non-compliance of Pakistan towards international commitments can indirectly harm and disconnect front line state organs/agencies from global appreciation and cooperation in financial assistance, intelligence and logistical supports.

Estimates find over 1.8 million brick kiln workers in bonded labour, which has still been found to exist in the hand-woven carpet industry, agriculture, brick kiln work, cotton-seed production, and tanning and mines industries.