Eight young Pakistanis, who were dreaming of becoming rich overnight, died helplessly, suffocating inside a container while attempting to illegally travel to Europe via Iran, an immigrant told his relatives from an Iranian hospital.
Twelve others are still in critical condition.
Details of the incident emerged after Ali Reza, a young man from Begowala in Daska tehsil, contacted his family and informed them about the deaths of those travelling with him.
He said that he and his companion had been duped by an unscrupulous human trafficker who had promised of taking them to Greece via Iran and Turkey.
The men, he said, did not survive a severe lack of air and extreme heat near Iranian city of Sheraz.
The Federal Investigation Agency confirmed the deaths of six people, most of whom were young and belonged to Wazirabad and Daska areas in Sialkot district. Fourteen others are yet to be identified, but are believed to be from Gujranwala, Gujrat and Sialkot regions. Local people, however, said that two of them from Gujrat and Lala Musa, were also dead.
Officials said the men had paid Rs400,000 each to make the journey, selling valuable assets such as pieces of land and other personal belongings.
According to initial investigation, the human trafficking agent who orchestrated the entire journey has been identified as Gondal. He is currently believed to be in Iran. Another man behind the heinous plan has been identified as Badshah Khan who is said to be currently in Karachi while search is on to identify another facilitator.
Families of the group have appealed to the government to have the bodies and those admitted to hospital in Iran be brought back to Pakistan.
This is, however, not the first such incident.
Despite numerous attempts by authorities to prevent human trafficking, hundreds of people from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Iran have died while attempting to travel to European countries in search of better economic prospects.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2011.
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