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October 10, 2018

Who is Ibrahim Koko?: Startling case of fake travel documents


October 10, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Who is Ibrahim Koko? Is he a Pakistani citizen, a Thai national or a Rohingya? What is confirmed is that he is in jail in Pakistan since early 2015.

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The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) authenticated to The News that Koko is a drug dealer who was convicted in Thailand on this charge. He is a Rohingya and had been shuttling between Myanmar and Thailand before he was repatriated to Pakistan, it said. How did Koko land in the Pakistani prison? He was transported to Pakistan through the prisoner swap arrangement. But it has been established that he is not a Pakistani national, but had managed to get the Pakistani passport and national identity card (NIC) in Thailand in connivance with embassy officials, the FIA said. The then ambassador of Pakistan posted in Thailand, who is now serving in South Africa as Islamabad’s high commissioner (HC), and another foreign office official were booked for issuing the fake passport to Koko in Bangkok. The case against them is being heard by the special court, the FIA said.

Both officials are on confirmed bail which was granted to them by the Islamabad High Court. However, they have been charge-sheeted by the FIA in the special court. Answering a question at his weekly news briefing last week, Foreign Office spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal said: “Regarding our HC in South Africa, the case is subjudice. The HC's travel to Pakistan is in line with relevant rules” (he comes to Pakistan in connection with hearings in the special court and goes back to South Africa at the state expense).

Ironically, when Koko managed to secure the Pakistani passport and NIC, he was in the Thai jail. The Pakistani passport to be issued to a non-Pakistani national or anyone holding NICOP (NIC for Overseas Pakistanis) for the first time has to be approved by the interior secretary and no ambassador has the authority to grant it. But in the instant case, the ambassador issued the passport to Koko, the FIA said.

At the time, the National Database & Registration Authority (Nadra) had told authorities in writing that the NIC Koko possessed was bogus and it did not figure in its record. Koko was transported to Pakistan treating him as the Pakistani national. His repatriation was also not without a drama.

FIA team had got Koko boarded on a plane in Bangkok when it was told not to bring him because he was not the Pakistani citizen, national. “But it was too little, too late,” an FIA official said. When Koko was lodged in the Pakistani jail, the interior ministry started an inquiry as to why Koko was brought to Pakistan. The FIA presented the view that it acted on the orders to repatriate Koko. It said that the orders not to bring him to Pakistan were delivered to its team late. The interior ministry held that it was a case of criminal negligence.

The FIA official said that the concerned HC might not be directly involved in the scandal as he might had relied on his subordinate officers’ opinion and approved the issuance of the passport to Koko.

The FIA has already recommended to the government to deport Koko to Thailand or Myanmar, arguing that there is no point in keeping him in Pakistan when he is not its national. Top authorities haven’t yet taken any decision to the effect.

The official said the FIA will again request the government to expel Koko instead of convicting him for getting the illegal Pakistani passport and NIC. “We should not burden ourselves by having him in jail anymore.”

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