ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to register a case against Mohammad Ali Asad, a central character of the so-called Olympic visa scam, for fraud, impersonation and mis-declaration, issue red warrants and seek his deportation from the United Kingdom.
“We have full right to get him deported. This is a test case for the United Kingdom. We have been cooperating with them for years and now it is time for them to reciprocate,” Interior Minister Rehman Malik said at a press briefing on Saturday.
He said investigations suggested that the report published by the British tabloid, The Sun, was a conspiracy against Pakistan. “It was a pre-planned and concocted story.”
Mr Malik said there was no doubt that The Sun agent Mohammad Ali Asad was a Pakistani national who had obtained the national identity card and passport in 2002 before proceeding to the UK where he had obtained British nationality.
He claimed that Asad arrived in Pakistan on July 9 on his British passport No 506486804 and applied for a computerised national identity card and passport which had been issued to him on the basis of the available record about him. He travelled back to the UK on the same British passport on July 20. The forensic evidence proved that the documents had been issued to Asad and nobody else.
Photocopies of the British passport mentioning Asad’s date of birth as Dec 8, 1980, and Sahiwal as his birthplace were distributed among reporters. The passport with a validity of 10 years was issued to him on Oct 24, 2011. He was accompanied by Stephen Graham of The Sun, holding a British passport No 80098664.
The record suggests that Asad has also committed a fraud in the UK as his date of birth in the record of National Database Registration Authority (Nadra) is Nov 11, 1977, a matter which, according to sources, will be taken up with the British authorities.
The only enigma in the saga appears to be the expeditious issuance of CNIC and machine-readable passport to Asad during his only 11-day stay in Pakistan. And that is the reason two officials each of Nadra and the passport department were still under the custody of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). They are facing the charges of receiving ‘speed money’.
Mr Malik confirmed that the officials were facing charges of issuing the documents in a short span of time.
The FIA has written a letter to The Sun for assistance in early finalisation of the case and seeking information about the government functionaries and agents, if any, who had allegedly received illegal gratification from Asad for providing him the CNIC and passport in an expeditious manner.
The letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn, says the report published and video prepared by the tabloid did not match the facts unearthed by the FIA. It seeks some substantial and concrete evidence in support of the claim.
“Your support in this regard shall be highly valued as it may help us in nabbing the corrupt functionaries likely to be involved in this alleged scam,” the letter reads.
Mr Malik’s remarks indicate that the government may drop its decision to file a defamation suit of £10 billion against The Sun. On more than one occasions, he said the tabloid might not be in the knowledge of the fact that Asad was holding Pakistani nationality. “Maybe The Sun was also cheated by someone,” he said.
The interior minister did not agree with a perception that the British government had rejected Pakistani investigation into the scam and said the probe was still under way.
JUDICIAL COMMISSION: Mr Malik urged the Indian government to allow Pakistan’s judicial commission to visit India again to investigate the Mumbai attacks and cross-examine four prosecution witnesses.
“The questions are very simple and I hope India will cooperate in bringing culprits to justice,” he said.
MURDER PLOT: Answering a question, the minister said it had been established that the report about a plot to kill former Lahore High Court chief justice Khawaja Sharif was false and aimed at defaming the federation. He said it was an attempt to implicate President Asif Ali Zardari in the case. He said soon after the so-called plot came to light, he had directed the authorities concerned to get to the reality.
He confirmed that the FIA had registered a case against six officials for concocting the plot.
According to the FIR, Punjab Special Branch chief Col (retd) Ehsanur Rehman, Director Special Branch Shahid Mahmood, Secretary to the Punjab Chief Minister Toqeer Shah and PML-N worker Talha Burki, with the help of two officials of the Crime Investigation Department, hatched the conspiracy to produce a false and fabricated intelligence report in a bid to create differences among the federal and provincial governments and the judiciary.