Pakistani security agencies arrested a state minister from the previous government on charges of smuggling people to Europe and Canada, a senior official said on Saturday.
Mushtaq Victor was picked up on Friday night in the capital Islamabad after a case of human trafficking was registered against him last month, said an official of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
"In all, he sent three women and 16 boys to Germany, Britain, Austria and Canada between 2003-06, passing them off as his wives and sons," Umar Hayat Gondal of the Federal Investigation Unit, a special cell of the FIA, told Reuters.
Gondal said most of the people he sent abroad were job-seekers and paid him up to 800,000 rupees ($12,851).
During the investigation, Victor said he was innocent and that his staff might have been mis-using his name.
Victor, 68, was the state minister for religious minorities in the coalition led by the Pakistan Muslim League, the party that backs President Pervez Musharraf.
The government's five-year term ended in October.
The pro-Musharraf alliance was defeated in a parliamentary election on Feb. 18, and the victors have yet to form a new coalition government.
Gondal said his agency was pursuing Victor since 2006 after a tip off from a Norwegian embassy official.