FIA delays crackdown on human traffickers


The credibility of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), which makes tall claims of curbing human trafficking in Lahore and other districts of Punjab, was challenged by a man, who has been pleading for registration of a case for two years now and the FIA’s “lethargic” officials have not entertained his repeated requests. The case still lies unregistered in the agency. Officials say that an enquiry was still in progress. The agency’s delay in addressing to commoners’ complaints against human trafficking is questionable.
Rizwan Afzal, a resident of 151-Rehmatullah Town Okara, filed a complaint at FIA in January 2010 to get a case registered against travel agents, Abdul Qadoos and Malik Zahid.
He said that the two were running a traveling agency, Fatiq Travel Agency, in Mandi Bahaudin. He alleged that the accused looted Rs 300,000 from him to help his brother, Adnan Afzal, in getting a legal job and a Korean visa, which they did not. He said that he approached the agents a number of times and requested them to return his money but they paid no heed to the issue and started teasing him.
Rizwan said that after a few months, the travel agents transferred Rs 50,000 to his account, while posted a check of Rs 250,000 at his residential address. The cheque bounced, he said, after which he filed a complaint in January 2010 at FIA. FIA received his complaint and started a lengthy process. He said that earlier FIA officials referred his application to Inspector Rao Iqbal. He claimed that Iqbal probed his complaint and found all the allegations leveled against the travel agents to be true. Iqbal called the two agents at FIA Headquarters in Lahore, and Malik Zahid, also on behalf of Abdul Qadoos, promised in writing that he would return the remaining amount in a month.
However, Zahid did not fulfill his promise, over which Iqbal directed legal branch to register a case. Rizwan said that Inspector Rao Iqbal died owing to illness in the meanwhile, and an FIA staffer helped the two travel agents in filing a complaint against the enquiry held previously, to the then FIA Deputy Director Dr Waqarul Hassan, who while replying to the complaint once again ordered an enquiry. “I was surprised on the decision. The travel agents with the malafide of FIA shifted my case to FIA Rawalpindi, where an inspector Kausar of FIA Rawalpindi was in close connection with them.
Kausar never listened to my complaint,” said Rizwan. Rizwan said that he filed a complaint with FIA Rawalpindi director and requested him to transfer his case back to Lahore. Despite the director’s orders, no one bothered to shift his case back to Lahore, he alleged, after which he filed a writ petition in Sessions Court for transferring his case back to Lahore. He said that Sessions Court decided in his favor and on court’s directions, his case was transferred back to Lahore. With Rizwan’s case back in Lahore, his case was sent to deputy director legal after a brief inquiry, but no case has been registered as yet.
“I discussed the matter with FIA officials. An inquiry was again initiated in this regard after top officials of FIA directed Naeem Virk to probe into the matter,” Rizwan added. He claimed that it been more than one and half years now and neither he got his money back, nor FIA registered a case against the “so called” travel agents. Rizwan claimed that he was not only the only person who suffered. He said that during his repeated visits, he observed dozens of men roaming in FIA offices in order to get justice via FIA but FIA’s long procedure only added to their miseries. He said that the system not only favored fake travel agents but also helped human traffickers in settling their matters with the help of FIA officials without getting arrested or penalised.
Four anti-human trafficking circles of the FIA in the Punjab have received 2,227 complaints including court cases from January, 2011 until August, 2011 and have registered as many as 1,242 cases following these inquiries. The data shows that the cases registered against human traffickers were not more than 60 percent of the registered complaints. However, when contacted passport circle deputy director, he avoided answering the query.
Involvement of FIA officials in human trafficking was also pointed out by the British government, after which serious action was taken by FIA higher authorities against corrupt FIA officials.


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