Thursday June 20, 2024

High-ranking Pakistan diplomat at the heart of a visa scam

Dr Israr Husain, a BS-21 officer at the Foreign Office, is at the heart of this scandal

By Umar Cheema
August 01, 2022
A file photo of Dr Israr Husain.
A file photo of Dr Israr Husain. 

ISLAMABAD: In March this year, a high-ranking Pakistani diplomat faced serious allegations of human smuggling. The complainant against him is a former government servant who himself is into visa business. The documents he attached with the complaint ranged from emails and note verbale issued to different embassies to proofs of payment he made to the accused diplomat.

Dr. Israr Husain, a BS-21 officer, is at the heart of this scandal. He was additional secretary (Europe) at the time the complaint was received against him. It was mostly related to his attempts to influence the European embassies in Islamabad to get visas for Pakistanis. He allegedly tried to send as many as 11 individuals to Spain. Before that, he was Pakistan’s ambassador in Czech Republic and his track record there was not clean either.

Tariq Javid Khan, the complainant dates back his story to the time Husain was in Czech Republic when he “made an offer to me to facilitate issuance of visit, work and residency visas for Italy, the Czech Republic, Spain, Poland and South Korea. He also introduced me to the ambassadors of these countries in Pakistan.” Reading through the complaint is like touring through the world of human smuggling and the way it works.

The complainant wrote that he had a complete record of all payments made to Hussain in the form of bank receipts. Khan attached several of them as evidence, which has been seen by The News. In addition, Khan mentioned having videos/ voice/ text messages exchanged between him and Husain. The visas couldn’t be issued and Husain refused to return the money and allegedly threatened Khan of dire consequences in case the word went out. However, in the meanwhile, another opportunity arose.

Husain requisitioned a group of Qawwal from Pakistan in Prague (capital of Czech Republic). Khan said he arranged their tickets, accommodations and all other expenses there in Prague. Behind this show was an ulterior motive. A group of 10 Pakistanis also accompanied the cultural troupe. As many as Rs.1.5 million were collected from each of them with the promise that they would get work and residency permits in Prague, according to Khan’s complaint. Husain didn’t keep the promise and they were forced to seek asylum.

Khan then mentions Husain’s past behaviour that he came to know through his colleagues. He alleged that Husain was a persona non-grata in several of the countries in his previous postings. He has mentioned a few ambassadors who, he hopes, would give further credence to the charges he has levelled against Husain. Please contact, his complaint reads, the ambassador of Italy, the ambassador of Czech Republic and the Ambassador of Spain “who will be happy to confirm Mr. Hussain’s disorderly conduct and they will provide evidence regarding his continuous requests for the illegal issuances of visas.”

The News is aware of Husain’s recent request in March to the Spanish Embassy. This was related to a Supreme Court lawyer who intends to take along as many as 10 individuals who were purportedly his “associates.” After checking their credentials, an official of the Spanish ambassador returned to Husain. “According to the documentations submitted, including the letter of the influential advocate himself, they are not his associates but friends or assistants. None of them has travelled before and they don’t seem to comply with the requirements established by Schengen regulations. Because of your communications, we saw their cases with preference as normally there is a delay of 2 months but the Schengen regulations cannot be twisted.”

The ambassador of Czech Republic in Pakistan and the ambassador of Pakistan in Czech Republic, according to Khan, made a formal complaint to the foreign office regarding Hussain’s deceptive conduct. “An investigation was carried out by the Foreign Office, however, Mr. Husain was exonerated due to his batchmates being the investigators of the case,” Khan wrote. Incidentally, Khan is doing the same this time.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs ordered a fact-finding inquiry to determine the veracity of allegations levelled by Khan, he has withdrawn his complaint apparently in an out-of-office settlement with Husain. Whether the ministry will proceed further on this remains to be known. “Since the allegations are specific in nature and evidence has also been shared, it is yet to be seen what the ministry does. Ideally, it should hold an inquiry. The ministry can’t stop doing that on the whims of a complainant. Rather, he should also be investigated,” said a well-placed official. Husain didn’t answer the questions sent by The News.