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July 17, 2019

Human-trafficking racket: FIA, police officials facing second probe


July 17, 2019

First enquiry found these officials, a PIA staffer, travel agents running a network; PIA says it suspended its official after he was found guilty

Shakeel Anjum

ISLAMABAD: Some officials from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and a national flag carrier staffer found guilty of smuggling thousands of Pakistanis to Europe and other countries between 2012 and 2017 are facing another inquiry.

An FIA investigation had found several senior FIA officers, including a Director, Deputy Director, Assistant Directors and others, guilty of involvement in largescale human smuggling.

It was also learnt that the gang, including FIA officers/officials and the human smugglers, used to charge Rs4.2 million from each individual to smuggle him or her to Europe and other countries. The inquiry conducted by the FIA after registration of FIR revealed that from 2012 to 2017, 8,513 people were deported from different countries.

Wife of an officer of FIA immigration and anti-human trafficking circle was 50% owner/shareholder of an international travelling agency which pointed out a clear link with the human smugglers.

A four-member investigation team headed by Capt (R) Muhammad Shoaib was constituted through letter No PS/DG/FIA/2017/2574 ON 27-10-2017 by FIA Director General Bashir Ahmed Memon for impartial investigation of the case.

The investigation team found a former director (additional IG police), a deputy director, three assistant directors, an Inspector, a member of PIA Task Force and others (civilian) involved in human smuggling. The team recommended that their specific roles needed to be further clarified during investigation.

“Human smuggling is a transnational organised crime with serious implications for national security. During the course of enquiry, it has been established beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime group comprising FIA officers, airline staff, travel agents and human smugglers were operating from Islamabad airport. Keeping in view the sensitivity of the case, having severe implications for national security, it is strongly recommended that a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) comprising officers from FIA, Intelligence Agencies (ISI, MI) and Police may also be constituted to investigate the case,” the team recommended.

The DG FIA approved the recommendations made by the investigation/enquiry team through letter No. HQ/FIA/C-238/2014/LAW/2018/WPR-15/19/366/71 issued from the office of Director Law directing an action against the government officials and private persons involved in the case.

The investigations in the human smuggling charges were initiated on the complaint lodged by no one else but SJ Francis, Colonel Royal Marine, the UK Navy and Air Adviser, based in the British High Commission in Islamabad.

Colonel SJ Francis submitted a written complaint to the FIA on 25 September, 2014. On receipt of the written complaint from Colonel Francis of the British High Commission, the FIA registered the ‘First Information Report’ (FIR) no: 238-14, in the Police Station FIA/AHTC Islamabad Circle under sections 420/471/468 PPC, 17, 18 EO, 5(2)47 PCA, 14 FA (Foreign Act), Islamabad Airport.

The UK Police and Spanish Police also investigated the issue and shared information regarding the high profile human trafficking crime, the report said.

Based on the investigation conducted by UK Police and the information shared by the British High Commission, Islamabad, Spanish Embassy, Islamabad and evidence collected from other sources by the enquiry team, the FIA officials, PIA staffer and six civilians running travel agencies in Rawalpindi, Gujrat and Peshawar, were apparently found involved in human trafficking, the report said.

“Based on the investigation conducted by the Spanish Police, the Police Liaison Officer at Spanish Embassy, Islamabad, intimated that Raja Zamirul Uqab is a member of international criminal group who also remained under detention in Spain on the charges of human smuggling. Spanish authorities also confirmed that the Spanish passports used for smuggling of Afghan nationals were fake. They said Zamir is financially linked with carrier Naveed Abbas and Punjab travel agents,” the investigation report said.

“The financial and telephonic links of private members of human smuggling racket have been established with FIA and PIA officials as well as travel agents,” the report added.

The written complaint submitted by Col Francis, which made the basis of the FIR stated: “The British High Commission Islamabad submitted a complaint to Captain Shujaat Azeem, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Aviation, Aviation Division, PIA building Islamabad with a copy to the DG FIA in which it is mentioned that on 21 September 10 Afghan nationals and 10 Pakistani were discovered at Heathrow Airport in possession of counterfeit UK visas and pages with exit stamps dated 20 September departure Islamabad. Documents recovered from the scene also suggest 01 second group travelled on 20 September with counterfeit documents.”

According to the Record Report (Roznamcha) No. 11 dated 21-06-2014, an FIA Director directed FIA Immigration staff posted at Islamabad Airport to stop Step-Checking of all flights. “He removed legal barrier (Step-Checking) of flights just to facilitate Human Smuggling from Islamabad Airport. Without his connivance, it was impossible for PIA and FIA Immigration staff to have run the human smuggling network of Afghan nationals on fake Pakistani travel documents,” the report pointed out.

“The human smuggling racket comprising human smugglers, carriers, travel agents, officials of FIA and airline staff was working on a Done Deal for those Afghans and Pakistani who could afford heavy amount and wanted to use air-route to settle in Europe and beyond. For a price of 2.5 million rupees for one person, if passenger was spotted at the landing airport, a lawyer was already arranged by the racket at airport to file asylum papers and preventing deportation. In case the passenger was deported, within days, he/she was sent back on next available flight, on basis of Done Deal. The intending immigrants were in groups of up to 10 persons escorted by a carrier,” said in the investigation report.

Fictitious data was inserted into FIA’s Integrated Border Management System (IBMS) at Islamabad Airport in order to cover up the matter and to make the passengers entry numbers look similar as that of flight manifest. Huge data of passengers travelled on flight PK-785 was either entered maliciously in other flights or not entered in IBMS altogether,” the report mentioned.

“It is a set practice all over the world that the immigration of passengers is conducted on the passports mentioned in flights manifest, but Immigration Desk at Islamabad Airport has intentionally and maliciously allowed passengers to board on international flights on different passports and in wrong flights. This practice is a major security risk as well as prone to corruption and supporting human smuggling,” the report disclosed the modus-operandi of the human trafficking racket.

Investigation of the matter confirms that the Counter Officials at Immigration Desk had blanket approval from the management not to enter passenger’s data in the system (IBMS), especially the Afghans travelling on fake Pakistani passports from Islamabad airport.

During the whole period, not a single official was made accountable for this serious lapse.

According to Form 29 of SECP, a travel agent and wife of the FIA inspector are Directors and 50% owner/shareholder in a company which provides a clear link of connivance and cooperation between human smugglers and FIA officials involved in the illegal business. The inspector remained posted at Immigration and Anti-Human Trafficking Circle for a period of approximately 10 years.

Initial inquiry into the matter revealed that from year 2012 to 2017, the PIA carried 711 passengers on fake/improper documents, who were deported and declared inadmissible passengers/deportees. A fine of Rs35,820,255 was also imposed on PIA and an amount of Rs13,051,080 is yet to be recovered for involvement in human smuggling.

“On receipt of complaint, preliminary enquiry was conducted and it transpired that allegedly 10 Afghan nationals having fake Pakistani passports bearing No. AH3676531 in the name of Zahid Niazi, no. AN676481 in the name of Nazish Durrani, AR1392591 in the name of Sabir Nizami, BE4632101 in the name of Ajmal Yousafzai, BF 3976521 in the name of Khafta Nizami, KR5793101 in the name of Fauzia Youafzai, SM3651041 in the name of Nasir Nizami, ST5402101 in the name of Ahmad Durrani, AR1392591 in the name of Abrar Durrani, AA9783973 in the name of Njib Nizami were checked and cleared with mala fide intention by the PIA Task Force staffer. The passenger services superviser (P.6012) issued boarding cards to these alleged Afghan nationals by misusing his official position and similarly illegal immigration on immigration counter of FIA.

An FIA official at exit stamped these forged passports without feeding biodata in IBMS with mala fide intention. After which another FIA official checked and cleared them. The inspector is responsible for as he was performing his duty as Shift Incharge, the report said.

Air tickets on these forged documents were issued by a travel agency in Mirpur, AJK.

“Prima facie, the case is made out against PIA Task Force, FIA officials and others under sections 420, 468, 471 PPC, 14 FA, 17/151 EO, r/w, 5(2)47 PCA. The role of other involved persons will be thrashed out and during course of investigations cases being registered. I am busy in investigation. Copies of FIR are being sent to the quarters concerned,” the FIR concluded.

The inquiry officer also found six persons, namely Raja Aamir Iqbal son of Raja Rasheed Ahmed, resident of Fateh Pur, Tehsil Sarai Alamgir, District Gujrat, Raja Zamirul Uqab son of Raja Rasheed, resident of Fateh Pur, Raja Waqar Rasheed son of Raja Rasheed, resident of Fateh Pur, Khalid Kamal son of Pir Kamal, resident of Peshawar Medical Center, shop no. 1, Kamal enterprises, Peshawar, Naveed Abbas son of Syed Asghar Ali Shah, resident of PO Khas Bhadar, Tehsil Kharian, District Gujrat, Mir Iltaf Hussain son of Ghulam Hussain alias ‘Doctor’, having CNIC no: 37405-0331610-5, resident of House No. 40-C, Westridge, Rawalpindi and others, involved in this human smuggling racket and recommended cases be registered against them accordingly.

The investigation team recommended disciplinary proceeding against the FIA officers/officials for their active role in human smuggling. The team recommended banning posting the officers of FIA involved in human smuggling case in immigration and anti human trafficking circles for future.

This time the then Director FIA who is presently posted as an Additional Inspector-General of Police in Punjab, approached court of law against the findings of the inquiry against him and other FIA officers and officials involved in the case.

When contacted, the Additional IGP said another inquiry has been initiated under the supervision of Additional IG Dr Mujib-ur-Rehman. “I have absolute trust in Dr. Mujib-ur-Rehman,” he concluded.

Spokesperson of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Mr. Mashhood Tajwar Mashud, when asked about the involvement of an officer of PIA in the case, said, “The authorities of PIA, straightaway suspended the accused official and held departmental inquiry.”

Director General (DG) FIA, when contacted to obtain his version about the course of investigation human smuggling case, refused to comment on the situation. However, he confirmed that another enquiry of the case has been initiated after the investigation report conducted by Capt (R) Muhammad Shoaib.