|Thomson calls Pakistan ‘global leader in visa forgery’|
27 July 2012
ISLAMABAD: British High Commissioner to Pakistan Adam Thomson on Thursday described Pakistan as a global leader in visa forgery, adding that visa fraud was a deep-rooted industry in the country.
Speaking to reporters at the National Press Club a day ahead of the Olympics opening ceremony in London, Thomson said it was unfortunate that Pakistan had been rated as a world leader in visa fraud. “Unfortunately, you people are world leaders in visa scam. Forgery is a strong industry here.” He added that in the past year alone, more than 4,000 visa forgery cases had been identified. Thomson added, however, that his visa officers were well equipped to spot these cases.
Commenting on a story that appeared in The Sun, Thomson said, “I am no one to determine the truth of the British tabloid story regarding passport forgery in Pakistan,” but also ruled out the possibility of unauthorised persons being part of the Pakistani contingent at the Olympic Games. “It takes athletes or officials several months to become part of the contingent. It was a practice that was over long ago. It is totally absurd to believe that unconcerned individuals could sneak into Olympic contingent. Getting accreditation is a lengthy process that requires months of scrutiny. It is almost impossible to become a part of contingent nearer to the start of Games,” he maintained.
APP adds: British High Commissioner Adam Thomson on Thursday expressed his satisfaction with the visa issuing system in Pakistan and added that no passport or visa system in the world could claim to be absolutely perfect.
Speaking to newsmen at the National Press Club, High Commissioner Thomson admitted that while there was an efficient and effective system in place at the British High Commission to check forged documents, there were still some flaws in the processing mechanism. “We don’t claim to be perfect,” he said.
He asserted that it was not possible for agents to obtain British visas on forged documents due to an effective check and balance system that was in place. At the same time, Thomson urged the applicants to apply directly for their visas and not rely on agents, adding that it was not possible for any agent to obtain a visa for a third person.
While briefing reporters on the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the official promised a spectacular ceremony due to begin tomorrow (Friday) evening and that would be watched by over one billion viewers throughout the world. He added that more than 62,000 people would watch the ceremony live in Stratford, East London. “As the Olympic torch makes it way to the stadium for the opening ceremony, hundreds of thousands of people across Britain will be sharing in the tremendous excitement felt here in Pakistan and all around the world.”
He further stated, “I wish the Pakistani Olympic and Paralympic teams the very best of luck as they proudly represent their nation at the London 2012 Games.”The official said that Pakistan’s hockey team had been drawn in the same group as the British team for the preliminary round of the Olympic hockey tournament. “It will be wonderful to watch UK, Pakistani and world nations set world records and bring home gold medals,” he held.
The commissioner added, “This year the Olympics fall within Ramazan and more than 3,000 Muslim athletes competing at the 2012 Olympics will have a once in a lifetime chance to compete with the same discipline, focus and commitment required for them in their holiest month. The London 2012 Games present a great opportunity for Britain to welcome the world. Many nationalities, cultures and backgrounds are already represented in the UK, including hundreds of thousands of British Pakistanis,” he said.
He said it was the presence of these nationalities in Britain that gave the country such a diverse, open and tolerant society and a reason why he was sure the Pakistan’s Olympic team would generate such a big following.
In response to a question, the commissioner said stringent security measures were in place at the Olympic Village, and that visitors were being checked at every opportunity. He added that the UK was working closely with the Pakistani authorities to check forged documents so that nobody could enter the country on illegal documents.
Appreciating the Pakistani media’s dedication and commitment to the cause of journalism, the commissioner expressed his hope that Pakistani reporters would fulfill their duty responsibly while covering and reporting the forthcoming general elections.
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