There has been a spurt in cases where Pakistanis have been found to be involved in terror-related activities including, being implicated in drug trafficking and espionage cases across the globe. The country’s embassies have been grappling with increasing number of such cases as per well placed sources.
In one recent case of April 2017, a Pakistani national by the name of Arif was detained by Filipino immigration authorities for being an al-Qaeda operative. The Pakistan Embassy in the Philippines has been having a hard time not only trying to obtain details of the case from the host government but also keeping this news under wraps lest it is leaked to the media. Apparently, the accused is a well-known person in Pakistan and there is pressure on the Embassy to ensure full confidentiality in the matter.
In another recent case, a Pakistani national named Mirza Imtiaz Baig was arrested at Male airport for attempting to smuggle narcotics into the Maldives. Also, in March 2017, a Pakistani national Mustafa Haider Naqvi was arrested by German authorities and sentenced to four years of imprisonment on charges of spying.
Even in China, where Pakistan is known to enjoy special privileges, the situation is no better. The Pakistani Embassy in Beijing is learnt to be receiving large number of reports on arrest of Pakistani nationals in China. Most of those arrested are involved in drug trafficking especially through the Khunjerab pass into Xinjiang.
Based on established connections between drug trafficking and terrorism, the Chinese authorities of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have viewed this development with concern. As a result, many Pakistanis living in Xinjiang Region have been placed under watch by Chinese security agencies. Many of these Pakistanis are married to local Uyghur women, making the job of the Chinese security even more complex. Lately, therefore, in order to tighten control over such Xinjiang-based Pakistanis with Chinese wives, the Ministry of Public Security of China has taken the decision to withdraw passports issued to such women.
This trend of increasing cases of Pakistanis being arrested for illegal activities presents Pakistan’s diplomatic missions with the huge challenge of maintaining a positive image of the country, especially at a time when Pakistan is being viewed as a cradle of international terrorism.