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ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Tuesday ordered the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) to carry out an audit of all foreign companies operating in Pakistan.

The directives were issued following the receipt of the report of a joint investigation team (JIT) formed to probe the kidnapping of a Chinese couple from Quetta, according to a statement issued by the ministry.

The audit would be aimed at identifying companies that are not filing tax returns, or are involved in unauthorised activities. Such companies or firms would have their registration cancelled, the statement said.

A foreign company has to register itself with the SECP — the corporate sector regulator — before it can operate in Pakistan.

Nisar receives JIT report on kidnapping of Chinese couple in Balochistan

On May 24, unidentified individuals posing as policemen kidnapped a Chinese couple from the Jinnah Town area of Quetta, while another Chinese national escaped the abduction attempt. The self-styled Islamic State (IS) militant group had claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

IS also released a video showing their murder on June 8, though authorities kept denying the two had been killed.

The minister has also asked the SECP to ensure that the financials and other particulars of all foreign companies are properly scrutinised before their formal registration.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) will also carry out an inquiry against the SECP officials who are ignorant of the activities of ARK Info Tech — the firm that employed the two Chinese nationals who were kidnapped.

According to a preliminary report submitted to the interior minister last month, a North Korean national, identified as Juan Won Seo, arrived in Pakistan on a business visa and opened an Urdu academy in Quetta.

The two Chinese nationals, Lee Zing Yang and Meng Li Si, also came to Pakistan on business visas and went straight to Quetta on the pretext of learning Urdu. But instead of engaging in business activities, the couple began preaching Christianity, the JIT report said.

The Chinese duo was taken into custody by police in Kharotabad days before their abduction. They had also been informed of threats and offered a security detail, but were said to have declined the offer.

According to the interior ministry statement, the visas of all foreign nationals associated with ARK Info Tech will be cancelled and they will be immediately expelled from the country. In addition, all cases registered against the company will be pursued.

The foreign ministry has also been asked to review visa procedures and properly scrutinise applicants’ particulars to check the trend of individuals obtaining Pakistani visas on the basis of fake particulars and fraudulent means.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will also inform the Korean ambassador in Pakistan about the evidence against the Korean national.

Published in Dawn, July 26th, 2017