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Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf chairs a meeting of the Federal Cabinet. – File photo by APP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s federal cabinet, on Wednesday, decided to take legal action against a British tabloid for publishing a fabricated report on Pakistan’s passport-issuing authority.

The cabinet announced its decision to sue UK-based tabloid “The Sun” for a story published in the paper on Monday, July 23, which alleged that a group of travel agents and a politician were involved in a scam, which allowed anyone to travel with the Pakistani Olympic contingent as support staff if they pay a certain amount of money.

However, an investigation conducted by Pakistan’s National Database Registration Authority (Nadra) dismissed The Sun’s claims and called its report a “fake scam.”

“There was no fraud or illegal activity done while obtaining the ID cards and passport of “the Sun Man” Mohammad Ali Asad,” a Nadra statement said.

According to the tabloid’s report, their “man” was able to get a fake passport issued in his name by bribing officials at Nadra.

The passport-issuing authority, however, said: “Documentary and video evidence proves that Mohammad Ali Asad was himself present for the renewal of his expired CNIC. Asad was picked by “The Sun” as undercover, who travelled to Pakistan on July 8. He went to Nadra office, Baghbanpura to get his photo updated against his own CNIC on July 10 rather than getting someone else identity as claimed by “The Sun” story. His CNIC was updated after matching with his previous record held in database. After getting his CNIC modified, he processed for his MRP (machine readable passport) on July 13, which was delivered to him on July 18. Since the same person applied to renew his own ID card and for provision of a passport, nothing illegal was done.”

Following the Nadra investigation, a cabinet meeting, headed by Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, discussed the details and decided to pursue legal action.

Director General (DG) of Immigration and Passport and Chairman National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) gave a detailed briefing to the cabinet, revealing details of the investigative report.

The cabinet stated that the scandal was a conspiracy of the British tabloid, which had been hatched to malign Pakistan’s image.

Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said “dirty propaganda was unleashed against Pakistan”. “The cabinet ordered the Nadra to file a defamation suit (against the paper) after consulting the law ministry,” Kaira told reporters.

He also took a swipe at the paper, Britain's biggest-selling daily, saying it “does not have a good reputation”.

Meanwhile, a magistrate of a local court on Wednesday handed over four detained Nadra officials to the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) on a three-day remand.