EDITORIAL: An awkward story involving abuse of Pakistani passport has surfaced in Saudi Arabia. According to a press report, Saudi authorities have informed Pakistan’s embassy in Riyadh about recovery of this country’s passports from 12,000 Afghan nationals.
Put on the spot by such a massive scam, heads of Immigration and Passport Directorate General and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) have launched an investigation, leading to the arrest of one individual, purportedly, for making fake passports.
This suggests the Afghans caught in that country had arrived using fake travel documents. Otherwise, the Saudi authorities had no way of knowing whether they were Afghanis or Pakistanis.
The issue, however, is a lot more complicated than that. Reportedly, the suspected fraudster’s arrest came about after a former officer and a one serving in grade-15 of the Passport Directorate were taken into custody for issuing passports to Afghan nationals using fake national identity cards. Apparently, they stole passport books and filled them on their own.
There is no knowing how many foreign nationals travel to other countries on such deceptive credentials. Countless others are said to be using wrongly acquired Pakistani national identity cards for all kinds of purposes.
In fact a while ago, it turned out that the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) had issued more than 40,000 computerised national identity cards to Afghan refugees, raising security concerns as well as some other questions.
At the time, the Authority had claimed to have blocked 22,349 cards and placed another 50,110 on its radar in all the four provinces. The then NADRA chairman told a Senate panel that 372 employees were under investigation for facilitating Afghan citizens to acquire Pakistani national ID cards.
How many of them were dismissed or retained remains obscure. But the outcome of the ongoing investigations, conducted in the wake of what transpired in another country, speaks of gross neglect by officials concerned.
It is not only NADRA that has to clean up its act; the FIA bears the responsibility for those who produce fake passports and forged national ID cards. The agency’s performance with regard to people smugglers is also disappointing, if not outright lousy.
Following last June’s boat tragedy in which over 200 Pakistani migrants perished at sea casting a pall of gloom over the nation, the FIA was expected to plug the loopholes in its law enforcement mechanism.
A few human smugglers were apprehended, but there is little result-oriented evidence of effectiveness. Prospective migrants have continued to be allured into embarking on perilous journeys.
Bad news from aboard will not stop coming as long as unscrupulous elements in the relevant government departments are willing to do business with organised crime.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023