ISLAMABAD: US Department of State in its publication ‘Trafficking In Persons Report’ revealed that the government of Pakistan conducted 70 investigations in 2014 and 50 prosecutions under Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking Ordinance (PACHTO). Lashing out at the nexus of political parties and human traffickers, the report said, “Some feudal landlords and brick kiln owners were affiliated with political parties or held official positions and used their influence to protect their involvement in bonded labour.” Bonded labour refers to an initial debt assumed by a worker as part of the terms of employment, which is exploited and ultimately entraps other family members, sometimes for generations, it said. “Bonded labour is concentrated in Sindh and Punjab and also rampant in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), ranging from agriculture and brick making and to a lesser extent in fisheries, mining and carpet weaving,” the report said. The report lamented that the law enforcement agencies, especially the police captures the bonded labourers, who attempt an escape, and return them to their traffickers. It is further alleged that the traffickers hold labourers and their families in ‘private jails’. Pakistan stands accused of harbouring human traffickers, and ever since 2014, the country has been placed in Human Trafficking’s Tier 2’s Watch List. Shamelessly, the country that managed to escape the Tier 2’s Watch List in 2010 fell again in its trap in 2014 and remains firm in it in the incumbent year. The report alleged, “Children are bought, sold, rented or kidnapped and placed in organised begging rings, domestic servitude, small shops, brick kilns, and prostitution. Begging ringmasters sometimes maim children to earn more money. Non government organisations (NGOs) claim that boys are particularly vulnerable to sex trafficking around hotels, truck stops, bus stations and shrines.” On human trafficking abroad, the report blames illegal labour agents who charge high recruitment fees from parents for giving work to their children and many of whom are subjected to forced labour and forced prostitution. “The government showed insufficient political will and capacity to address trafficking fully as is evidenced by ineffective law enforcement efforts, official complicity, penalisation of ‘victims’, and the continued conflation of migrant smuggling and human trafficking by many government officials,” the report stated. Pointing out the ‘irregularities’ in legal framework, the report said, “In January 2015, the Supreme Court (SC) heard the petition of a criminal case filed in 1996 against two landowners including a former member of provincial assembly, who reportedly used thousands of forced agricultural labourers in Sindh’s Digri and Sanghar. The labour group responsible for the original court petition claimed that the landowners used their influence in the provincial assembly to intimidate bonded labourers and their supporters.” The Federal Investigations Agency (FIA) as per the report has revealed 141 human trafficking networks operating countrywide but laments that action against the mentioned networks remains far sighted. It is further alleged that the police officers are often found indifferent on practices that includes forced marriages of girls, dispute settlements, commercial sexual exploitation of boys and widespread debt bondage in the agricultural and brick kiln industries. The bonded labourers who were rescued but lacked identification documents were unable to access government services including healthcare and food stipends at the ‘few low resourced shelters’ and in cases were also returned to brick kilns or farms, the report alleged.