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China withholds visa for 90 Pakistani brides after trafficking complaints

China withholds visa for 90 Pakistani brides after trafficking complaints

ISLAMABAD: Amidst complaints of human smuggling in the garb of cross-cultural weddings, the Chinese Embassy has withheld visas for 90 Pakistani “brides”, who planned to travel to China with their spouses.

A Chinese diplomat told media that the embassy alerted Pakistani authorities after witnessing an unusual increase in wedding visa applications this year. “Last year, 142 Pakistani women applied for such visas after marrying Chinese nationals,” Lijian Zhao, the deputy chief of mission at the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad, said, “while this year so far 140 Pakistani brides have applied for this category of visa.”

The diplomat further added that China is investigating all 142 cases of the weddings that took place in 2018, and initial investigations reveal that there are a few isolated cases where the couples are experiencing trouble. “We are trying to determine if there are any problems. We are ready to help those girls if there is an issue.”

Zhao also mentioned a complaint by a Pakistani wife who wrote a letter to a Pakistani federal minister complaining that she was subjected to torture. After receiving the letter, he said, the Chinese authorities probed the matter but found no evidence of torture. The couple later divorced, after which the diplomat said the local government in China provided a train and air ticket to the Pakistani women to travel home. She arrived back in the country on May 2.

Lijian Zhao, however, denies media reports about Pakistani women being trafficked and subjected to forced prostitution and organ sale in China. “These are lies being spread on the internet and media that are talking about Pakistani girls being sent to China for forced prostitution or sale of organs. It is totally fabricated and for sensational purposes. There is no evidence for it,” he said.

Zhao has asked the Pakistani government to review its visa on arrival policy for Chinese businessmen, as some marriage bureaus in Pakistan are misusing it. In addition, he said, the Pakistani authorities should probe the institutions and chambers of commerce and industry, which are inviting fake businessmen, who are in reality coming to the country to find wives, not to do business.