Fresh information indicates that British tabloid The Sun’s undercover “man” in the purported Olympic visa saga could have been able to obtain a Pakistani passport and identity card under the identity of someone with a similar name.
The undercover man, whose name was purportedly ‘Asad Ali’ could have obtained the NIC and passport of one ‘Muhammad Ali Asad’ - who has an entirely different date of birth and place of birth.
While the names are fairly similar, Ali Asad was born in Sahiwal not Lahore.
The Sun had earlier claimed to have broken into a crime ring asserting that by issuing fake passports and visas, Pakistan had given potential terrorists a chance to sneak into Britain along with the country’s Olympic delegation.
Furthermore, the British government denied issuing a visa to ‘Muhammad Ali Asad’ on the days claimed by NADRA and passport authorities, The Express Tribune has learnt.
In its reply to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), however, the UK Border Agency stated: “In response to your fax dated July 25, 2012 … we have a record of a working holiday maker visa being issued to Muhammad Ali Asad, s/o Muhammad Anwar Siddiqui (Date of Birth November 8, 1977). It was issued to passport No J609802 on April 25, 2002; valid until April 25, 2004. [We] have no record of a visa application being made in association with passport No BD1876301.”
UK high commissioner asserts trust in Pakistan
British High Commissioner in Pakistan Adam Thomson assured that the UK trusted Pakistan’s passport issuance system and the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and added there was no evidence of anyone travelling to Britain as part of the Olympic visa scandal.
He said the visa scandal issue was of global significance; however, Britain was satisfied with Pakistan’s visa and passport issuance mechanisms. “We are satisfied with the passport issuance system of NADRA and no country is free of defect,” he stated.
Addressing a press conference on Thursday at the National Press Club (NPC), Thomson said that anyone who was part of the national sports delegation going to take part in UK Olympic had to apply months in advance. “Each and every thing was checked and there was no chance to proceed to the UK on fake documents,” he said.
He accepted that incidents of fake visa seekers were at its high and that last year they found 4,000 fake travelling documents and passports.
He said that every country has visa scam incidents. “We don’t claim to be perfect ourselves of course. There are flaws in passport issuance but it does not mean the whole country is responsible for one incident,’’ he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2012.