Forced Labor

Slavery in Pakistan

Modern-day slavery is thriving in Pakistan and, at a delicate time for U.S.-Pakistan relations, the Obama administration must decide what to do about it. Time reports that the majority of Pakistan's one million landless peasants are living under conditions of debt slavery. Since last September, at least three landlords have held as many as 170 peasants at gunpoint on their estates since after they dared to bring suits against the landlords for using debt to force them to work. A third of the hostages are children, some of them as young as four months old, forced into debt slavery for amounts averaging about 1,000 Pakistani rupees, or $12. Landlords have already killed one hostage, and area threatening to kill others if the case isn't dropped. Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, has made his concerns known to Pakistan's U.S. ambassador, and on the eve of Hillary Clinton's visit, diplomats urged Pakistan to resolve the issue.