As Pakistan ended its campaign in the London Olympics on Thursday, the contingent’s security has been intensified to keep members away from ‘conspiracies’ through possible sting operations by British newspapers.
Mohammad Abid Qadri, the serving DIG Operations Punjab, in charge of security related issues with the delegation, is said to be on his toes to keep athletes away from ‘conspiracies’ or ‘planted media stings’. While shooter Khurram Inam has already returned to Pakistan, others, including two swimmers and as many athletes, besides the 18-man hockey squad, are expected to return after the closing ceremony on August 13.
Pakistan faced controversy prior to the Olympics when the London-based tabloid The Sun ran a story exposing a “passport scam” in Lahore.
‘Aware of possible controversies’
Pakistan’s chef de mission Syed Aqil Shah said he was taking measures to keep the members away from controversies.
“We are aware of the conspiracies against us,” Shah told The Express Tribune. “The athletes have also been made aware of the possibility of them being targeted. They are not allowed to speak to strangers and are under strict vigilance,” he added.
The chef de mission added that Qadri is an experienced security officer and is doing a good job. He is in the loop with all the members of the delegation including athletes as well as the officials, he added.
Shah said so far no athletes have reported any approach from anyone and added that conspiracies were hatched just to make Pakistani athletes and officials scapegoats in case of any security failure.
“The passport scam was also a back-up plan for them in case of any failures on their part. It wasn’t a credible story as not a single person can enter the Olympics Village without accreditation issued by the International Olympics Committee.”
‘Visa scam’ probe team leaves for UK
Meanwhile, a team of the Federal Investigation Agency left for Britain on Friday to probe The Sun’s ‘Olympic visa scandal’, The Express Tribune has learnt.
The British tabloid had accused Pakistani authorities of providing forged travel documents and smuggling people to the 2012 Summer Games as members of the Olympic delegation, giving potential terrorists a chance to sneak into the high-profile sporting event.
A two-member FIA team, comprising Director FIA Sindh chapter Moazzam Jah and Chief of Staff to Director General FIA Waseem Ahmed Sial, will remain in the UK until the prob is finalised.
FIA Director General Muhammad Anwar Virk told The Express Tribune that the team will examine The Sun’s undercover ‘man’, Pakistani-born British citizen Muhammad Ali Asad, who played a key role in the scandal.
Asad visited Pakistan under the name of Ali Asad, as mentioned in his UK passport, and returned to the UK after acquiring a new Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) and Machine Readable Pakistani passport under the name of Muhammad Ali Asad.
The FIA had registered a case against him on charges of concealing facts regarding his previous manual passport and British citizenship.
He had neither declared his earlier Pakistani passport, obtained through a manual system in 2000, nor his British citizenship when he applied for a new machine readable passport on July 13, 2012.
The FIA team will hold meetings with management of the British tabloid, reporter Stephen Moyes who published the story, the National Press Trust of UK, and officials of the immigration, home office and UK border agency.
The FIA has also requested Britain to extradite of Asad so he could be tried in Pakistan, and will be in touch with Interpol, in this regard.
WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ASAD KHARAL IN LAHORE
Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2012.