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Snubbed Minister Reveals Massive Smuggling Scandal of Musharraf's Henchmen

By M T Butt

ISLAMABAD, Sept 3: Within hours of announcing his cabinet, new Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz faced his first political test when the outgoing Interior Minister accused the head honcho of politics, just-resigned PM Choudhry Shujaat Hussain and his cronies, of massive smuggling of illegal immigrants to UK, supported by top aides of General Musharraf himself.

Virtually pushed out of the sensitive Interior Ministry, PPP turncoat Faisal Saleh Hayat revealed the billions of rupees scandal, which, in his words, had the support of powerful Gujrat politicians, meaning the ruling clan of the Choudhries.

In an interview published on Friday in The News, Hayat claimed that at least four top level officers of FIA facing actions for their involvement in human smuggling from country’s airports were instantly rescued by the Punjab government and given top postings in the province.

He revealed that within 24 hours of dissolution of the Jamali cabinet on June 25, at least two dozens new postings were made by FIA bosses at Islamabad airport as at that point in time technically there was no Interior Minister.

“To save the favorite accused officers from punitive action, the Choudhries have given them lucrative postings in Punjab province when I tried to punish them for their crimes,” Faisal told Rauf Klasra of The News.

The disclosures of the outgoing Interior Minister will have serious repercussions for Pakistan-UK relations as it is for the first time that a government minister has admitted massive human smuggling sponsored by top politicians and officials sitting in General Musharraf’s secretariat.

It is also not clear how PM Shaukat Aziz will resolve the situation as Faisal has been offered a cabinet slot along with 31 other ministers most of who belong to the PML of Choudhry Shujaat Hussain.

Faisal accused Musharraf, his men and the Choudhries of not letting him deal with the human smuggling scandal. “Let me today make it clear to all that as an Interior Minister he had many limitations and restriction in discharging his duties.”

He said how FIA officers nabbed by him for human smuggling were protected by Punjab government, could be judged from the single fact that these four top level officers were given lucrative postings in Punjab. He said first an assistant director Sajid Akram was arrested red handed at airport but despite his efforts, FIA did not arrest him. Faisal was offered millions for the release of Sajid who belonged to Gujrat.

He said it was on the official record that human smuggling was being done by the recruitment agents of three districts – Gujrat, Mandi Bahauddin and Gujranwala, all political strongholds of the Choudhries. He said recruitment agents of Gujrat were so powerful that despite his best efforts, he could not make the FIA to take action against them.

He said these four accused powerful officers had such strong political backers that despite being the Interior Minister, he could not get them arrested.

Faisal said when he sought action against other FIA officers – Nazar Abbas FIA director Rawalpindi, Deputy Director Passport Cell Rawalpindi, Naeem Khan and FIA Director Lahore, he was shocked to know that these accused officers were given lucrative postings in Punjab province. “One was made DIG and the other is serving as District Police Officer in Sargodha”, he claimed.

“I was not even authorized to make postings and transfers of senior officers in FIA. Some powerful people were directly dealing with this crime dealing with the FIA whose top officers were involved in human smuggling.”

The critics of Faisal Saleh Hayat had accused him of running the human smuggling racket but it turns out that Faisal was being made a scapegoat as in his view it were the top guns of the PML and President’s House who were involved.

UK recently had complained that Pakistan was sending illegal immigrants on its flights and London had threatened to stop PIA flights into UK airports if the flow did not stop.
However Faisal said Government of Pakistan had never received any official complaint from London against the human trafficking as was being widely believed.

He repeatedly stated how he had tried to bring about changes in the corruption riddled FIA but his frantic efforts were always frustrated by some powerful political and ‘other’ people who always pressurized him.

He said he too could unleash all kinds of allegations against his ‘political friends in coalition government’ as he knew too much about their own wheeling and dealings. But, Faisal said, he did not want to create a new ‘political crisis’ in the country by openly naming those politicians from Punjab who were behind the malicious media campaigns against him.

Faisal particularly spoke in detail about human smuggling saying time had come to tell who was actually responsible for this trade that involved billions of rupees.

He said in a bid to curb the rising menace of human smuggling a policy was prepared in September 2003 and at least 150 well educated and highly skilled girls were recruited at all immigration centers in Pakistan as women were comparatively less prone to corruption.

He claimed that he had tried to recruit highly skilled and competent and honest officers in FIA with clear mandate to stop human smuggling. But, he lamented that from day one, FIA bureaucracy was not cooperating with him as he was not even empowered to make transfers and postings of senior bosses of FIA to execute his policy.

So, Faisal said, in that backdrop, his frantic efforts to bring about changes in FIA were frustrated many times. “My orders were never implemented fully’, he revealed.

He said we needed to understand that human smuggling trade involved billions of rupees and big cartels were working particularly in three districts of Punjab and it was not an easy thing to destroy them.

He said these powerful people knew how to protect their trade interests and that was why, when he got the main culprit, Malik Bashir in Lahore on charges of human smuggling, he came under heavy pressure from all political and non political people.

He claimed that even judiciary created hurdles in dealing with such people as Malik Bashir was given bail by a judge at his home late in the night. Ministry rushed him to Karachi as he was wanted in another case but, once again, the accused was given bail as he was being backed by some powerful people.

He finally sought the services of the Army intelligence agency to deal with Malik Bashir who finally revealed names of his gang involved in the human smuggling. Faisal said even he was offered millions of rupees to release him.

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