The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has announced its investigation into a case of individuals impersonating lawyers and obtaining European visas through the unauthorized use of letterheads belonging to the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) of Pakistan. The SCBA has formally lodged a complaint with the FIA Director-General, urging a comprehensive investigation into this illegal use of their letterheads, which enabled the unlawful transportation of non-lawyers and non-SCBA members to Europe.
The complaint filed by the SCBA sheds light on an alarming incident that occurred in June of the previous year. During this period, an unsigned letter was issued under the false pretense of the SCBA to the Austrian embassy, facilitating the entry of 39 individuals into Europe. These individuals were falsely represented as advocates and SCBA members, allowing them to secure Schengen visas.
The complaint notes that this incident came to the forefront when the 25th executive committee of SCBAP took charge in November 2022. It was during their tenure that an internal inquiry uncovered the grave crime of human smuggling that had transpired during the term of their predecessors, the 24th executive committee of SCBAP in October 2022. The Austrian embassy had been approached for the grant of Schengen visas to supposed members of the association, and all correspondence was conducted on SCBAP letterheads. Moreover, a list containing the names of the 39 individuals was fraudulently created and used to facilitate human smuggling.
What further deepens the mystery is the revelation that the list had a reference number that had previously been employed. In August 2022, an email was forwarded to the SCBAP office in Lahore, originating from the Lahore High Court Bar Association. This email contained communication from the Austrian embassy, seeking verification of the list of 39 individuals.
SCBAP Secretary Muqtedir Akhtar Shabbir, in the complaint to the FIA, expressed suspicions that a significant number of the individuals listed had managed to enter Europe and had not returned. Recognizing the seriousness of the situation and the potential damage to the SCBAP’s reputation, the association has called for a thorough FIA probe. This investigation is intended to identify the individuals responsible for the misuse of SCBAP stationery, the creation of the list, and the facilitation of human smuggling. It also aims to unveil those who impersonated advocates in this illegal endeavor.
Additionally, the SCBAP has urged the FIA to scrutinize the entire correspondence with the Austrian embassy regarding visa issuance, including interactions with the Lahore High Court Bar Association. The association is keen on investigating the individuals or entities responsible for managing the air tickets and itineraries of those who evaded authorities.
It is worth noting that the SCBAP’s registry branch in Lahore has vehemently denied any involvement in the creation of the aforementioned list of 39 individuals. The staff has affirmed that neither did they compile such a list nor did they provide official stationery to anyone.
An FIA official has confirmed the receipt of the SCBAP’s complaint and has assured the initiation of a comprehensive probe into the matter.