Interior minister Rehman Malik said on Wednesday a team of Federal Investigations Agency (FIA) officials will soon travel to Britain to probe the alleged Olympic visa scam, in which British newspaper The Sun accused Pakistani authorities of providing forged travel documents.
The minister’s statement came hours before the other key accused Abid Chaudhry was arrested by an FIA team in Lahore.
“Asad Ali has been identified as the main suspect and will be interrogated by the FIA investigation team along with other officials said to be involved in the scam,” Malik told journalists outside parliament, adding that Ali will be brought to Pakistan with the help of Interpol.
The ministry had earlier requested the international police organisation to issue red warrants for the arrest and subsequent extradition of Ali to Pakistan for due investigations and trial.
Lauding the progress made in investigations so far, Malik said details of Asad Ali’s passport will soon be made public. He added a case will also be referred to the National Press Trust of United Kingdom against The Sun.
The FIA’s Lahore chapter has already registered a case against Ali for providing false information to registration authorities at the time of applying for a passport, said sources.
The FIA, meanwhile, arrested Chaudhry and another accused Raqeeb on Wednesday, sources said. The agency is also conducting raids to track down two travel agents Mushtaq and Bobby, who are also said to be behind the released video which The Sun used as ‘evidence’ in its report.
UK-based tabloid The Sun had published a story claiming uncovering a visa scam in which Pakistani authorities were smuggling people to the 2012 summer games as members of the national delegation, giving potential terrorists a chance to sneak into the high-profile sporting event.
It maintained Abid Chaudhry was providing forged travel documents in exchange for a payment of Rs1 million.
Following the report, Malik called a high-level huddle of officials from the interior ministry, FIA and NADRA and decided to cross-examine the efficacy of the registration procedure of NADRA and Integrated Border Management (IBM) at the Islamabad airport.
The interior secretary was directed to constitute a team headed by the FIA’s director general. (With additional input from Asad Kharal in Lahore)
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2012.