Rehman Malik orders inquiry into missing passports fiasco

Inquiry committee to investigate the possibility of these passports falling into the wrong hands.


June 17, 2011

KARACHI: Interior Minister Rehman Malik has ordered an inquiry, on Friday, into the theft of more than 5000 passports from Karachi.

It is reported that over 5000 passports of Umra travellers were stolen from the Karachi office of the Travel Agents Association.

Malik also directed the authorities to cancel the passports within 24 hours while forming a committee to investigate the possibility of these passports falling into the wrong hands.

The Association's office had been closed for three days and it is suspected that the passports were stolen during that time.

Earlier on Tuesday, June 7, it was reported that more than 5,600 passports of Umrah travellers were reportedly stolen from the office of the Travel Agents Association of Pakistan (TAAP) in Karachi, located in the defunct Metropole hotel, Saddar.

Sources privy to the matter had informed The Express Tribune that the FIR No. 92/11 had been registered against unidentified persons at the Artillery Maidan police station on the complaint of the office manager, Saleem Ahmed. He had told the police that the office was closed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and the 17 bags containing as many as 5,634 passports of Umrah travellers were probably stolen from the office between June 5 and June 6.

All the agents of the Umrah travel agencies in Karachi submit the passports to the TAAP, which sends them to the Saudi Embassy for the visa process.

The police claimed to not only relying on the statement of the complainant that there had been a break-in, since they found it hard to believe that the alleged robbers left other valuables in the office untouched while only stealing passports. Also that the crime scene did not suggest a break-in as none of the windows or locks were broken.

SHO Munawar said that they are looking at “all possibilities”, and an investigation has been initiated in collaboration with the Federal Investigation Agency.  “The case will be resolved soon,” he added.

TAAP Chairman Yahya Polani, while talking to The Express Tribune, had called the theft a big conspiracy against TAAP since at least 25 of the stolen passports belonged to foreigners.

COMMENTS (19)

ARK | 10 years ago | Reply Dear All Sufferers It is right time to push the concerned Ministries and TAAP to regularize our same passports and CNICs which have recovered. Till now there is no any information available with the travel agents and Mr.Yahya Polani-Chairman TAAP. Yesterday I talked to him on his roaming numbers because he is still staying in Saudi Arabia. According to print media information that one passport looser also lodged a big claim through his legal adviser. Now time has come to give these all corrupt officials and ministries a tough time. The same Passports, CNICs, MOFA must be regularized for our case. Refund of Passports and CNICs fees which we had already paid due to the instruction of Ministry and TAAP.
Danish Javed | 10 years ago | Reply

Travel agents body served notice over theft of 5,600 passports

ISLAMABAD: The Travel Agents Association of Pakistan (TAAP) has been issued a legal notice worth Rs100 million by a renowned law firm of Pakistan over the theft of 5,600 passports which were stolen on 5th and 6th June this year from TAAP’s office.

AK Brohi & Co law firm has sued Yahya Polani, Chairman TAAP, and Marhaba Travels & Tourism (Pvt) Ltd for not taking due care of the important documents such as national and international passports and national identity cards. The name of the client has been withheld here. “You failed to take proper care of the passports and NICs which resulted in the theft of the passports of our client including 5,600 other passports, on 5th/6th June 2011 from the offices of TAAP,” says the legal notice adding: “You are advised, in your own interest, to act on a priority basis so that no further loss is caused to our client and his family. Please further note that should you fail to settle this matter within 14 days from the date of this legal notice, we have clear instructions from our client to initiate legal proceedings against you in the court of law, which shall be entirely at your own risk as to costs and consequences. Take note that our clients intend to initiate both civil and criminal proceedings against each of you, should you fail to settle the matter.”

The notice mentions that the conduct of TAAP was a clear violation of the contract since TAAP and the travel agent failed to properly take care and exercise due diligence in protecting the passports and NICs of “our client”. In addition, TAAP was negligent in not employing proper methods, technology, personnel, etc, for protection of the passports.

“Your negligence was wilful and manifestly incriminating. Similarly, you have breached your duties as a bailee. Furthermore, your conduct squarely falls within the parameters of criminal negligence. It must be pointed out that each of you is jointly and severally responsible for the loss of these valuable documents of our client. You failed to take proper care of the passports and NICOP cards by leaving them in an unguarded office, without a proper security alarm system, without any safety mechanism whatsoever. It is criminal negligence that you left 5,600 passports in one office without anyone to protect those passports. Even otherwise, you were jointly and severally responsible for ensuring that all necessary steps are taken to ensure the protection of our client’s passports and NICOP cards, and this was an essential term of the contract.”

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