Government to Block Passports of Over 2,000 Professional Beggars

The federal government has decided to freeze the passports of over 2,000 professional panhandlers who tarnish Pakistan’s reputation by soliciting charity abroad.

Lists of these individuals have been compiled from Pakistani embassies worldwide, and the Ministry of External Affairs has been asked to provide additional information about them.

According to official sources, individuals caught begging abroad will have their passports revoked for seven years. Government officials emphasized that begging overseas not only damages Pakistan’s image but also undermines the dignity of its citizens, explaining the rationale behind this strict policy.

“Beggars traveling abroad bring disgrace to the nation,” said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior, highlighting the necessity for decisive action.

Additionally, the government plans to block the passports of agents who facilitate individuals in begging in foreign countries. Many beggars travel to countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq under the guise of pilgrimage or Umrah, only to end up begging.

Efforts are underway to develop a coordinated policy between the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of External Affairs to comprehensively address this issue. Collecting data on individuals engaged in begging abroad is seen as a crucial first step towards implementing effective measures.

Recently, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) offloaded 16 alleged beggars disguised as Umrah pilgrims from a Saudi Arabia-bound flight at Multan airport. The group, consisting of 11 women, four men, and a child, confessed during the immigration process that they were traveling to Saudi Arabia to seek alms. They also revealed that they would have to give half of their earnings from begging to the agents involved in their travel arrangements. The FIA Multan circle arrested the passengers for further interrogation and legal action.

These arrests came a day after the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development disclosed to the Senate Committee on Overseas Pakistanis that a significant proportion of beggars are trafficked abroad through illegal channels. The ministry’s secretary revealed that 90 percent of beggars apprehended in foreign countries are from Pakistan. “Both the Iraqi and Saudi ambassadors have reported overcrowded jails due to these arrests,” he said.

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