LAHORE - Though the FIA has started inquiry into the issue of 10 Afghan nationals who travelled to the UK on fake documents, there is a perception that the real accused are roaming freely while some low-ranking officers are likely to be made scapegoats, said sources in the FIA.

The British High Commission has already lodged a complaint with Pakistan in this regard. As per sources, the UK authorities have also demanded CCTV footage from the FIA and PIA to probe the matter at their own.

FIA deputy director Mohibullah Mandokhail and assistant director Matiullah had been transferred and inspector Rana Abid, general checker Zafar Iqbal and counter official Gul had been suspended, and a departmental inquiry was initiated against them.

Sources in the FIA and PIA said there was very pathetic situation at different international airports. An FIA report revealed that within the last nine months of the current year, PIA staff issued boarding cards to 35 passengers who were travelling on fake documents and arrested by the FIA. Most of them were travelling for America, Canada and European destinations. Out of these passengers, 17 were travelling for Milan by flight Pk-733, seven for Barcelona by Pk-795, two for Toronto by Pk-789, one passenger for Oslo, one Manchester, one Kuala Lumpur, one New York via Manchester, one Sharjah, one Dammam and two passengers were travelling for Jeddah on fake travel documents.

From the above mentioned details, it can be observed that a considerable number of the 35 passengers were intercepted by the FIA Immigration staff at Allama Iqbal International Airport on direct PIA flights, mostly for European destinations. All of these passengers were issued boarding cards by the PIA counter staff. If these passengers could have succeeded to travel on the above mentioned flights, the PIA, being a national carrier, not only had sustained financial loss of Rs1,07,10,000 in shape of fine but at the same time it would have tarnished the image of the country, PIA and FIA Immigration.

The PIA management continuously makes efforts for the issuance of boarding cards and has deputed experts as the PIA Task Force to ensure interception of passengers travelling on fake / forged documents. The PIA Task Force plays a very important role at the time of boarding.

Recently the FIA immigration staff at AIIAP Lahore intercepted 8 passengers and 4 agents/facilitators who were attempting to travel by PIA flight No.PK733 Lahore -Milan on Sep 30, 2014 and their final destination was the UK after entering Italy. In this case, the FIA Immigration staff performed excellently, 6 Afghan nationals including one carrier and 2 residents of Charsadda caste Afghan were arrested with one British / one Afghan passport, 2 fake Danish passports, 2 fake Bulgarian passports, one fake Finland passport and one fake Swiss passport. The quality of these fake foreign passports was very close to genuine as these passports contained high tech security features.

The above mentioned incident was a wakeup call, not only for the FIA but also for the PIA management to take necessary steps for plugging the loop holes and revisit their mechanism to frustrate the designs of agent mafia and intending passengers travelling on fake/forged documents.

The FIA Immigration staff participated in the training sessions organised by different foreign embassies of Canada, Australian, British, German, French, etc; during the near past. These training sessions played a vital role to enhance the skills and capabilities of the FIA Immigration staff in addition to their own skills and experience.

While on the other hand, the PIA management has no such programme for their boarding / traffic staff and PIA Task Force members with the collaboration of foreign embassies or by this agency to enhance their skills for document examination and passengers profiling.

Earlier, FIA official Shahzad Gul, who had checked the travel documents of the Afghans at the immigration counter, was taken into custody by a team of the Federal Investigation Agency which is investigating the matter.

Despite the clear evidence about the presence of an organised human smuggling racket at the Islamabad’s International Airport, the FIA high ups have made the most junior official a scapegoat to cover up a major recent scandal that caused embarrassment for Pakistan in the international community, The Nation has learnt.

In a shocking incident on September 20, at least10 Afghan nationals were allowed by the FIA Immigration staff to travel to the UK from Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport on fake Pakistani passports and visas. The British authorities arrested these Afghan nationals at London’s Heathrow Airport and lodged a formal complaint with the Pakistan government over the incident that could possibly result in terror activity on the UK’s soil.

Credit goes to FIA director Dr. Usman Anwar and his team head, Deputy Director Immigration, Ch Muhammad Ahmad who intercepted 12 Afghan nationals trying to board a European-bound flight from Lahore airport.