Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Sunday chaired a meeting in Islamabad to review the matter of blacklisted American national Mathew Barrett’s entry into Pakistan who, according to reports, was allegedly in spying on Pakistan’s nuclear programme.
It was decided in the meeting that visas to foreigners will now be issued with the approval of the Interior Ministry.
The meeting was attended by officials belonging to the Interior ministry, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and high-ranking police officials. The issue regarding the issuance of visa to US citizen Matthew Craig Barrett despite his name being in the blacklist was reviewed during the meeting.
It was also decided that the Integrated Border Management System (IBMS) In-charge Fahad Qayyum, who had first pointed out the Matthew Barrett case, will be awarded Rs 100,000 as arrest of the US national was made possible because of him.
The initial report regarding the issuance of visa to Barrett was presented to Nisar. According to the report, an officer working in the Pakistani embassy in Houston was responsible for issuing visa to Barrett. It was mentioned in the report that the officer issued visa within 24 hours without reviewing the records. Furthermore, the FIA officer working at the immigration counter at Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport was also held responsible for the security breach.
IS BARRET A SPY?:
According to spokesperson of the Interior Ministry, it would be too early to call Matthew Barrett a spy as the reasons why Barrett was first included in the blacklist did not include espionage. It was also said in the meeting that the comparison of this case with that of the Raymond Davis one would be unfair.
The spokesperson added that Chaudhary Nisar ordered FIA to come up with a new policy framework regarding immigration and also said that the issuance of visas from the embassies be made with the approval of the Interior Ministry. The minister ordered that the immigration system and the blacklist should be updated.
Earlier, it was revealed that the US national was blacklisted from Pakistan in 2011 on charges of espionage. The federal minister had on Saturday suspended staff of immigration shift, including an FIA assistant director deputed at the airport for granting immigration permission to the blacklisted American citizen and issuing him a Pakistani visa.
He also directed the officials posted at the Pakistani embassy in Houston to give an explanation about the incident. The minister inquired as to why a blacklisted citizen was issued a visa to enter into Pakistan.
Matthew Brett had been arrested in the past over his alleged involvement for spying on Pakistan’s nuclear programme.
The minister had constituted a team under the supervision of an additional secretary of interior to investigate the matter and present a detailed report by Monday.
Nisar also directed to constitute a joint investigation team (JIT) under the chairmanship of SP Investigations Capt (r) Ilyas which would also include officials of FIA, Intelligence Bureau and Inter-Services Intelligence to probe the matter.
The US citizen, who had been expelled from Pakistan over his involvement in suspected activities a few years ago, reached the Islamabad airport on Saturday morning.
The immigration staff posted on the airport showed negligence and allowed him to enter the country despite his name being on the blacklist, an Interior Ministry statement said.
A case has also been registered against the US citizen over violation of the immigration rules.
The interior minister has directed senior officials of his ministry to investigate whether the blacklisted US citizen was permitted into the country by mistake or if there another reason behind it.