5,600 stolen passports cancelled
ISLAMABAD: The government ordered on Friday cancellation of more than 5,600 passports which were stolen in Karachi a week ago and ordered investigation amid fears that they could be used by terrorists, a senior official of the interior ministry told Dawn.
“The theft of 5,634 passports has raised several questions about the misuse of stolen documents,” the official said.
A meeting held in the interior ministry decided that all stolen passports should be cancelled so that they could not be misused.
A spokesman said that Interior Minister Rehman Malik had formed a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe the theft of 5,634 passports from the office of Karachi Travel Agents` Association.
He ordered the JIT to look into the security aspect and involvement of the staff concerned into the matter.
The team will also investigate under what authority so many passports were kept in the premises without proper security.
The spokesman quoted the minister as saying: “Missing passports may fall into the hands of the terrorists.”
Mr Malik ordered the Director General of Immigration and Passports to cancel all stolen passports and give him a compliance report within 24 hours.
The department concerned was ordered to ensure that victims of the theft got new travel documents.
Sources in the FIA said Artillery Maidan police had received a call from the travel agents` association office that a robbery had taken place in the office.
Employees of the association told police that they had received 5,634 passports from more than 100 travel agencies working in the city. These were placed in 17 bags.
The theft happened sometime on Sunday as when the office opened on Monday it was found that the passports were missing.
Police were informed that bulk of the passports were brought to the TAA office for visa and verification purposes.
However, it is to be ascertained why such a huge number of travel documents were placed in the TAA office and for what purpose.
The investigation team is also working on lines that some employees of the TAA might be involved in the crime.
The sources said the JIT had taken the head of the association into custody and more arrests were likely.