LAHORE - The hiring of Indian experts and workers by Pakistani sugar mills remains a hot topic amid concerns that some of them may not have passed all the security checks.

The Nation has learnt that PTI Secretary General Jahangir Khan Tareen was the first industrialist who hired Indian consultants for his sugar mills in Rahimyar Khan and Ghotki in 2014.

JDW Sugar Mills, owned by Tareen, had written a letter to Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi in July 2014 for issuance of six-month multiple-entry visas, with minimum 45 days stay in each visit, to two Indian consultants for Lahore and Rahimyar Khan (Punjab), and Ghotki (Sindh). The names of the consultants were K Nagaraj and Senthil Arun.

PAT head Dr Tahirul Qadri in a press conference on Friday alleged that a large number of Indian nationals were working in sugar mills owned by Sharif family, expressing doubts that some of them could be RAW agents.

He claimed 300 Indian nationals, including engineers, technicians, IT specialists and others, were working at Ramzan Sugar Mills, Chiniot and they were exempted from police report and other checks every time they entre Pakistan.

The claim of Dr Qadri was denied by a spokesman of Ramzan Sugar Mills who said that no Indian national was working on the project.

The security analysts reviewing the statement of Ramzan Sugar Mills were of the view the statement was right to extent that there was no worker of Indian nationality in the mills. But the statement did not say if any Indian consultant was hired by the mills or not, they added.

PAT head had ignored the fact that the documents relating to Indian nationals who were providing or had provided services either for Ramzan Sugar Mills or JDW Sugar Mills related to hiring of consultants and not workers for the projects, they said.

They could not be on the regular employee salary rolls. They just have to provide consultancy, said the security analysts.

Dr Qadri expressed fears that some of the Indian nationals, who came to Pakistan and allegedly did not pass through police and other checks, might be on the payroll of RAW.

Dr Qadri in fact said nothing new as a few media organisations reported the same issue in April this year.

At that time a statement from Ramzan Sugar Mills said some Indians were working at the sugar mills but no one from security agencies had contacted them for background check. All of the workers were issued visas by Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi after due security process from relevant agencies since they first started working in Pakistan, it added.

A vigorous check on Indian nationals, especially engaged in some qualified and specials tasks, was launched by key intelligence agencies in April this year after the capture of Commander Kulbushan Yadav, the chief operator of RAW, in Pakistan who was making bids to extend his network up to Punjab.

The secret services took keen interest in background check of the Indian nationals involved in the consultancy business.

Professional and technical fields provide best cover for spying business, said some veterans of intelligence community while talking to The Nation on the issue.

When pointed out that foreign nationals enter the country after screening and security clearance, they said it didn’t happen in all the cases as ‘special guests’ were entertained by different rulers in violation of rules and procedures.

Giving cautions to the rulers through field reports is the duty of the secret services and it is up to the ruling establishment whether it deems necessary to follow the recommendations or not, they added.

It had been spotted by the secret agencies that some of the ‘special guests’ roaming in such cities and areas for which they had not obtained visa under official protocol.

Reports had also been sent about it to the authorities concerned but agencies could not do anything beyond their information-gathering activities, they claimed.