The harrowing tale of Muhammad Ashfaq, in search of a better home, but instead tortured in Turkey and finally arriving home after nearly three hard years, is a reminder of what can await all those travelling from Pakistan illegally in search of better opportunities abroad. He was one of six Pakistanis travelling under false pretences and kidnapped and tortured by Afghan human traffickers for ransom.

The problem is multifaceted; the lack of jobs available or the poor quality of life for the common citizen in Pakistan leads him/her to attempt to explore opportunities outside the country. And given the dearth in resources, the pariah-like status that the Pakistani passport now has in the eyes of many countries and the predisposition of ‘travel agents’ on this side to break the law and get people there by any means necessary, Pakistani citizens seeking illegal homes abroad never have any guarantees for safety and security. This, coupled with the lack of information possessed by those travelling, makes Pakistani citizens the perfect candidates for such crimes.

Obviously, if a law has been broken while travelling, there is little chance for the family or the individual to bring law enforcement authorities on board with kidnappings of this nature. Unlike Syrian or Afghan migrants, many Pakistanis are not fleeing terrible circumstances such as war at home, which is why there is no legal cover such as asylum to protect them from deportation.

One of the fundamental responsibilities of the state is to ensure that its citizens are not left wanting of basic rights and amenities while in the home country, and are granted basic protection when outside of it. In the case of Pakistani illegal immigrants looking to find a home abroad, the latter is just not possible. But if greater care is given to providing for everyone at home, there won’t be a need for this many people to leave, and even if they do, it will not be in such desperate circumstances.