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Pakistani girls trafficked to China as brides 'exaggerated' stories, says Pakistan FM

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Pakistani girls trafficked to China as brides 'exaggerated' stories, says Pakistan FM
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Euronews - Davies, Pascale
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Pakistan's Foreign Minister has told Euronews that reports of Pakistani girls being trafficked into China as brides are "exaggerated" stories which have been "planted" to create misunderstandings between the two countries.

The Associated Press and the New York Times reported in May that hundreds of Christian Pakistani girls are married off in China.

AP said brokers are "aggressively seeking out girls for Chinese men, sometimes even cruising outside churches to ask for potential brides."

It also said Christian clerics are paid to target poor parents and are promised wealth in exchange for their daughters, with stories of riches often turning out to be untrue. Many girls were reported to have found themselves in isolated villages, vulnerable to abuse, according to AP.

When asked about the reports, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pakistan's Foreign Minister, said the stories triggered "concern", but added Pakistan had "engaged the Chinese collectively" and looked into the situation.

"We came to the conclusion that a lot of these stories were exaggerated," he said.

Adding, the reports "were planted to create a sort of misunderstandings between two friendly neighbours."

"We would not allow any abuse but we will also not allow international propaganda or elements to affect our relationship," Qureshi added.

Human Rights Watch has called on China and Pakistan to crack down on the trafficking and put an end to it.

The latter has arrested several Chinese and Pakistani nationals, according to Pakistani broadcaster GEO TV.

The Chinese embassy has previously said it is cooperating with Pakistan to crack down on illegal matchmaking centres.

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