LAHORE: Sports bodies have been exploited for human trafficking, since at least 1992, despite being brought to the notice of relevant authorities, according to documents available with Pakistan Today.
It is learnt that Khalil Ahmed, then president of the Pakistan Judo Federation (PJF), was “indulging in gross irregularities” in 1992 and “was charged with sending people abroad illegally to Japan, Australia and other countries, posing as Judo players,” according to correspondence between the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) and YS Park, IJF President, Seoul, Korea dated 28.2.1997.
According to an inquiry conducted by the PJF, the Australian High Commission in Pakistan confirmed that Khalil Ahmad, as Secretary General of the PJF “did indeed send people illegally to Australia, who did not participate in the championship in Australia but rather slipped away.”
Later, in 1995, Khalil allegedly produced a fake letter by forging the signature of the director general of the Pakistan Sports Board, presenting himself as the president of the PJF and the body as the “legal body to control and supervise the game… in Pakistan” to the Judo Union of Asia in Tokyo, Japan. In April/May 1992, he allegedly helped secure a Japanese visa for his brother, who was not a professional Judoka, and “left his brother behind in Japan to work over there.”
It was found that Khalil received “handsome amounts” from team members he took abroad, who were not professional players, and neither participated in tournaments nor returned to Pakistan.
Despite documented evidence of Khalil’s ‘corruption’, he continues to enjoy prominent positions in sports bodies. The director general of sports also recognises him as president of the Pakistan Ju-Jitsu Federation since he formed it in the 1990s.
The practice of exploiting sports visas to transfer non-professionals through countries qualifies, legally, as human trafficking. According to the Section 18 of the Pakistan Immigration Ordinance 1979, such trafficking is a criminal offence that carries a sentence of 14 years rigorous imprisonment.
Despite repeated requests, Khalil Ahmad did not return Pakistan Today’s requests for comments.