The deluge of petro-dollars in the Gulf States in early 70's led then to a frenzy of modernisation and mega-infrastructure projects. However with very small populations and absence of a technological resource base; they had to look for labour and skills from abroad. Thus began the "Dubai Chalo" syndrome. Today almost five million Pakistanis are working in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. Their employment abroad has brought a wave of prosperity in the rural areas of migrant workers in Pakistan through remittances sent by them for their families. The success stories of their peers, mostly exaggerated created tremendous pressure to replicate these experiences. The lure of dollars and inability of the government to provide jobs to the unemployed led to a craze among the young and thus started the phenomenon of human trafficking in Pakistan. The business flourished and the phenomenon of fake passports and visas and illegal means of crossing into borders of foreign countries perceived to be holding lucrative prospects spread like a cancer in the society. The mafia of FIA immigration officials and other related agencies mushroomed and became operative with impunity, fleecing the poor who, inspired by the dream of a comfortable life for their kith and kin in Pakistan, ventured into hazardous journeys to unknown land after paying huge amounts in many instances selling family assets. The wicked alliance between unsavoury agents and the criminal conduct of the mafia did not receive the attention until 9/11 when the security factor became a dominant, almost obsessive, element with foreign countries. The problem now has reached epidemic proportions. Official reports have disclosed frightening figures. In the year 2004, from Oman alone, 10,294 job seekers were deported; last year, the number increased to 12,600. These unfortunates had been smuggled to Oman by crossing Pak-Iran border through Balochistan. Most of these deportees returned in pathetic conditions, both mental and physical, as they were kept in prison under inhumane conditions. Parliament was told that, during last two years, a total of 87,963 Pakistanis were deported from 34 countries and another 658 were detained in 15 European countries. The number of detainees in UK alone is 360 on various charges, such as illegal documents or overstay. The War On Terror, in which Pakistan has become the frontline state, also paradoxically put Pakistanis in the dangerous or unwanted category by most countries. On slight suspicion, Pakistanis have been detained, harassed and even killed as in the case of Macedonia where in 2002, 11 Pakistanis were shot in cold blood for illegally crossing the border. The favourite routes for human smugglers have been Turkey, Iran, Greece and Oman. These countries having relatively easy immigration laws became the launching pad for illegal entry into Europe and led to serious strains in bilateral relations. These countries demanded that Pakistan take stringent measures to combat human trafficking. These four nations have been engaged in negotiations with Pakistan to stem the tide of illegal emigrants but with little success. The tragedy continues. More than 4,000 Pakistanis were deported this year from Turkey and Iran. Thousands more are languishing in their jails for illegal entry. Last month 598 Pakistanis were deported from Oman after having been jailed for unauthorised stay. These deportees had harrowing tales of privation and humiliation during their confinement with similar horror stories of Pakistanis stranded in foreign lands in search of greener pastuers abroad. European countries, particularly after 7/7 terror incident in London have gone to the extent of suggesting that same provisions of the European countries on human rights should be suspended and hasher measures should be adopted to stem the flow of immigrant Pakistanis. Human trafficking is just not a national problem but has serious repercussions on bilateral relations with our friendly neighbours like Turkey and Iran. The government has failed to check the scourge. The humanitarian dimensions of the issue have been totally ignored and the human traffickers continue to thrive on human miseries with impunity. The media recently reported that according to FIA some cabinet members are involved in this sordid trade. Little wonder that instead of any fear of consequences of action against the agents, the poor victims upon repatriation are subjected to further harassment and extortion by rapacious security agencies on arrival. Such apathy and cruelty on the parts of our rulers defines the real face of Pakistan. Seen from this perspective Pakistan is a failed state as it has failed to provide security and livelihood to its citizens. In desperation and total misery, staring into their face, young Pakistanis continue to court hardships even death in their vain hope of reaching Eldorado. While our Islamic Republic remains a silent spectator to this grim tragedy. The writer is a former ambassador