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April 4, 2010

Over 3000 Pakistani passports lost by British High Commission: Pak agency

     Islamabad: A Pakistani investigating agency has alleged that over 3000 Pakistani passports have been lost by the British High Commission in Islamabad. However, the High Commission has admitted ‘misplacing’ only 150 travel documents, and not 3,362 passports as claimed by investigation officials. Pakistani investigators are also probing reports of theft of visa stickers from passports, which points towards some major scandal involving both Pakistani and British authorities. According to The Dawn, the problem started last year when the British High Commission ( BHC )decided to send the Pakistani passports to Abu Dhabi, the regional hub for ‘decision making’ for final approval of visas. However, in January this year, the shipment of passports from Islamabad was suspended. It is believed that at this juncture, a larger number of passports went missing. “It is quite possible that BHC officials were not able to properly correlate the application forms returned from Abu Dhabi with piled-up passports, and conveniently reported lost documents,” said an investigative official, who is pursuing the case. Meanwhile, some applicants have complained that some of the visa stickers were missing from their passport when they received it back from the BHC . Some people have also alleged that stickers were removed while the passports were in the Federal Investigations Agency’s ( FIA ) possession for verification. Misplacing the passports could cost the British High Commission dearly, as fears are that these passports could land in Al-Qaeda’s hands which could use them for terror attacks across the world. “If terrorists get hold of these passports, they can alter them with the help of human-trafficking mafia and move freely to various countries, especially the US and UK , to carry out terror activities,” observers said. According to intelligence sources, the lost passports had multiple visas of various western countries that can be tampered with easily by the militants.
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