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April 18, 2015

Proclaimed offender given lucrative post in Malaysia


April 18, 2015

ISLAMABAD: On the run from the proverbial long arm of the law, a man wanted by the police in two cases of fraud and deception used his political connections and associations with the power brokers in the political chess-game to get him appointed to a key diplomatic position in Pakistan Mission in Kuala Lumpur where he has been living a princely life off public money for the last two years.
Syed Azhar Raza Hashmi, currently the Community Welfare Attaché at the High Commission for Pakistan in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is wanted by the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) police in two separate cases of fraud and embezzlement but he used his close association with the then Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Dr Farooq Sattar to get the lucrative diplomatic assignment which besides granting him the status of a diplomat qualified him to get a hefty salary in dollars, a life of perks and privileges affording him opportunities to mix up with the upper strata in the government and diplomatic circles and hobnobbing with the cream of the 100,000-strong Pakistani community.
Sources in the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource, confided this correspondent that Azhar Raza was hired in 2012, under political pressure, and his otherwise mandatory clearance from any security or sensitive agency of the country was not sought against the existing norms and procedures governing the clearance for appointment of officers for such sensitive postings.
It is worth mentioning that the post of Community Welfare Counselor is highly important and sensitive as it involves critical role and decision-making in hiring of Pakistani labour for the host country market and award and cancellation of passports to the Pakistani workforce already employed there. This is in addition to the reasonability of liaising with the influential Pakistanis, inviting them to functions arranged by the Pakistan Mission and facilitating the Pakistanis in their day-to-day commercial and social activities

often entailing interaction with senior government functionaries in the host government.
As per details available with ‘The News’ and confirmed by the Punjab and KP police, cases against Azhar Raza were registered in 2006. The accused chose not to appear before the investigation officers and consequently an advertisement was published in the national press in 2007, notifying the public of his criminal and anti-social activities and seeking public help and cooperation for his arrest. Before Azhar Raza Hashmi proceeded to his prized posting in the Malaysian capital, he was officially a proclaimed offender and wanted by the police in two provinces.
As per details, the case registered against Azhar Raza with Gulberg Police Station Peshawar by Frontier Constabulary, on 20th September (case Nos 15, 16 and 17) under section 408, 420, 465, 109 and 485. FC alleged that Azhar Raza committed a fraud of Rs3 million. Similarly, Gulberg Police Lahore, on a complaint filed by International Security Consultant, booked him on 30 November 2006 on similar charges. FIR No 1078/6 lodged by Gulberg Police read that the accused was involved in fraud, embezzlement and theft.
He was declared proclaimed offender by Punjab and KP police and general public was warned not to indulge any business with him and that his arrest warrants had been issued by two provinces police (copies of relevant papers are available with The News).
‘The News’ approached Foreign Office spokesperson through email and on her office phone No but there was no response from spokesperson office till the filing of this report. This correspondent also approached Secretary Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resources Sikander Ismail Khan but he did not respond despite the fact that twice message was dropped in his office.
Sources in Pakistani High Commission, Kuala Lumpur told this correspondent that he was known as a magic man as he was helpful to all embassy staff in solution to their problems - official or personal. He is seen with high officials of the embassy in evening parties and enjoyed more importance than Pakistani High Commissioner.
Talking to this correspondent over phone, Azhar Raza Hashami said that he was cleared before his appointment as Community Welfare Attaché. When told that Lahore and Peshawar police maintained that cases were still pending in court and he (Azhar) never appeared before any investigation officer, Raza insisted that he was cleared.
Sources close to former federal minister Farooq Sattar ruled out his connection with the issue. They said that Farooq Sattar always upheld merit in his decision and went by the book while discharging his ministerial responsibilities.

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