Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for January 22, 2011

Newsline: Pakistan Foreign Ministry caught red handed in visa scam

A new scam has come to the light in the Foreign Ministry as the Protocol Wing has been found involved in human smuggling by sending recommendation letters to foreign missions for issuing visas to a large number of private individuals, without checking their credibility and background. Sources in the Foreign Office confided to The News that a large number of introductory letters, including those on behalf of the foreign minister, were issued to foreign embassies to facilitate the issuance of visas to individuals without checking their credentials. The Foreign Office got alarmed when confronted by this correspondent and immediately set up an inquiry committee to probe the matter. The FO Spokesman, Abdul Basit, said the inquiry committee, under additional secretary administration and comprising chief of protocol and director general (foreign secretary office), had been constituted to probe these allegations. Interestingly, all the controversial letters have been issued by the Protocol Wing of the Foreign Ministry, whose head, the chief of protocol, has been included in the inquiry committee. Some concerned officials in their background interaction are trying to shift the whole blame on one of the officers of the Foreign Ministry. However, introductory letters were issued for individuals recommended even by the foreign minister and others. Credible sources say the scandalous role of the Protocol Wing of the Foreign Ministry was in the knowledge of the top bosses of the Foreign Office but they did not initiate any proceedings till the time The News approached them on Thursday. What the ministry, however, did a few months back was to revise the policy for the issuance of notes, verbal and introductory letters. No one was asked, no inquiry was conducted, no head rolled and instead a deliberate effort was made to push the scam under the rug. Such has been the role of the Protocol Wing that it even issued introductory visa letters to an agent who was recently probed in the widely reported human smuggling case where two individuals were sent abroad as sons of Federal Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, who later denied any involvement in the scam. An official of the FO’s Protocol Wing told this correspondent in a background meeting that the introductory letters were hardly taken seriously by foreign missions and in most of the cases, visas were not issued to those recommended. However, the official had no answer as to why the Foreign Ministry, in the first place, issues introductory letters to people without knowing their credentials. The official suspected the role of one of his colleagues in the Foreign Ministry, not associated with the Protocol Wing. In one case, Syed Mansoorur Rehman of First Choice Enterprises, approached the deputy chief of protocol with the request that he, along with his two fabric experts, intends to seek business opportunity and buy suiting fabrics from Bucharest. Following the request, the protocol officer of the Protocol Wing issued an introductory letter to the Romanian Embassy. There are numerous such cases of dubious introductory letters issued by the Foreign Ministry to different foreign missions. An official of the Protocol Wing, however, showed to this correspondent only a few letters, most of which were issued on the recommendation of one Foreign Ministry official.




Newsline: The second Somali embassy returns to government

Somali official in the capital of Germany, Berlin confirmed that retuning Somali embassy in Germany to the Somali government’s hand has been won, reports said. Ambassador of Somali of Somali embassy in Bonn, Germany,  Mohamud Mohamed Tifow that Somali sold to Germany and Grace traders by former Somali representatives to Germany, but said that it got in hand of Somali government back. Reports indicate that Somalis in Berlin made demonstration in front of the embassy taking patriotic songs and erected Somali flag in the Somali embassy yesterday after the news emerged. This becomes the second Somali embassy back to Somali hand, the first was the one in Nairobi, Kenya in the end of last year.