Pakistan dithers over Olympics scam story case
By: Murtaza Ali Shah
LONDON: Pakistani government’s response over ‘The Sun’ Olympics fake visa story is in utter confusion as no action has been taken against the paper despite the passage of more than a week and Pakistan’s request for the deportation of Muhammad Ali Asad will certainly be rejected by Britain.
A spokesman at The Sun newspaper told The News on Monday that no claim has been made against the paper over the story titled ‘Olympic ‘terror visas’ racket — Pakistan passport gang is smashed’ that continues to wind Pakistani officials and which has been given a lot of credence. But if sued, said the spokesperson, the paper will “vigorously” defend and stand by its story.
The Sun continued to insist that its story was “another example of The Sun’s great tradition of investigative journalism”. It said the story “revealed an extremely dangerous loophole that if left unexposed could have posed a major risk to the London 2012 Olympics.”
Senior Pakistani officials have said that a case has been registered against Ali Asad in the alleged passport scam in Pakistan and the British government will be asked to deport him. They have insisted that ‘The Sun’ story was a conspiracy to bring Pakistan into bad name and that Pakistan’s National Database & Registration Authority (Nadra) and passport systems are intact. The sorry state of Pakistan’s response came to light when a senior official claimed to have involved a British institution for libel proceedings against the paper, which actually doesn’t exist in Britain.
But the matter of deportation of Ali Asad is a hollow announcement and Pakistani officials are fully aware that Britain will not deport its citizen to Pakistan. Legal experts are of the view that Pakistan has little legal grounds to ask for the deportation of a British resident over a newspaper story.
“The announcement that Britain has been asked to deport Ali Asad is for domestic consumption in Pakistan. It carries zero substance and no seriousness as far the legal complexities matter,” said a media lawyer.
The media lawyer’s assertion is testified as The News is aware that there is no extradition treaty between UK and Pakistan. Only a red warrant issued could facilitate Asad’s repatriation using the Interpol’s good offices but even then the claim could be contested at various legal levels and it could take years for him to be deported — which is highly unlikely.
A senior Pakistani official has even gone to the extent of describing the deportation request as a “test case for Britain” on the grounds that Pakistan has been going out of the way to take back Pakistani immigrants removed from Britain. According to the official accounts available with both the countries’ home authorities, of late, special flights have been operated frequently to carry the illegal Pakistani migrants. But it’s definite that a request from Pakistan will not see the light of the day in any court room for the obvious reasons that there is no balance in relations between the two countries and the story will fade away and a bigger scandal may be round the corner to replace the visa scam story.
A spokesperson at The Home Office refused to comment, stating: “We do not comment on or confirm extradition requests, or comment on individual a cases.” But a source in the Home Office separately told this correspondent that no application from Pakistan will be entertained and a request was not expected to be sent.
When asked if Pakistan High Commission in London has been instructed to challenge The Sun over the story or ask the Home Office for deportation of the Ali Asad, a spokesman said: “We have not been contacted at all. It has not been decided that who will be the claimant party against The Sun, the government of Pakistan or Nadra. We have not been intimated about any request with any agency in Britain. It has been said that Pakistan High Commission in London will be asked to raise the matter with the National Press Trust of UK but no such institution exists in Britain.”