ISLAMABAD - On the directives of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has started a countrywide crackdown against human-smuggling and human-trafficking.

The decision was taken following the threat of international financial sanctions on Pakistan due to rising number of cases of this trans-border crime.

"On the directives of the interior minister, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has launched crackdown against elements involved in human-smuggling and sending people abroad illegally," says a statement issued by the Ministry of Interior.

FIA recently had written to the provinces asking that human-smuggling should be curbed, as the country was facing threat of financial sanctions due to increasing number of such cases from Pakistan.

A spokesperson of the ministry said during various raids conducted in Gujranwala, Gujrat, Faisalabad, Multan and Lahore, 24 travel agents had been arrested so far.

He said that hundreds of passports, CNICs and other travel documents had been recovered from the custody of the arrested agents and FIA had registered cases against them.

The spokesperson quoted the interior minister as saying that by promising to send the needy and innocent people abroad such elements were exploiting them and therefore deserved no leniency.

The minister said that elements involved in human-smuggling brought bad name to the country.

He directed FIA to undertake effective and comprehensive action against all such elements.