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Organised racket may have stolen 1K Italian visa stickers in Islamabad

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Pakistan has reported the theft of around 1,000 visa stickers from the Italian Embassy in Islamabad, SchengenVisaInfo reported.

Updated Jul 02, 2021 15:33 PM

Organised racket may have stolen 1K Italian visa stickers in Islamabad

Pakistan daily Dawn has reported that the Italian Embassy has informed the Foreign Ministry about the theft of visa stickers, which are valid for travelling to any of the 26 Schengen states in Europe. The region mostly functions as a single jurisdiction for international travel purposes with a common visa policy.

The Foreign Ministry requested the Interior Ministry and the FIA "to keep track of these visa stickers at all entry and exit points and report any seizure to this [foreign] ministry".

The Interior Ministry has referred the matter to the FIA headquarters, the report said.

Dawn said the sources did not rule out the involvement of an organised network of human traffickers in the theft since they sell the visa stickers.

An official working with a private overseas employment company has said that it is a multi-billion rupee scam because the price of a Schengen visa starts from Rs 2 million and some people may even be willing to pay up to Rs 4 million for it.

As per the report, an FIA official has said that there are organised rackets and small groups of people who smuggle thousands of desperate men, women and children abroad every year. The FIA Red Book lists around 112 "most wanted traffickers".

The Red Book contains the names of the most wanted terrorists and criminals involved in drug trade, fraud, money laundering, human trafficking and other such illegal activities.

Most of these wanted traffickers belong to Central Punjab, while a sizeable number of these criminals hail from Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and POK, the report added.

The sources expressed apprehensions that the traffickers may already have sent a number of aspirants to the Schengen states through stolen visa stickers.

According to Schengen Visa Statistics, Pakistan has been listed as the 11th country in the world with the highest rejected Schengen visa rates, following several African countries.

In 2021, the data revealed that 43.5 per cent of the visa applications from Pakistan had been rejected, the report said.

It added that the European Asylum Support Office's (EASO) May report had also revealed that Pakistan was among the top countries to have applied for asylum in the European member countries during March 2021.

EASO has reported a 17 per cent increase in first-time applications and a 31 per cent decline in repeated applications. The organisation said that 42,000 asylum applications were lodged in the EU countries in March 2021.

Last year, European Parliament member Dominique Bilde had said that Pakistan leads the fake passport and documents market.

"Should we be surprised about the Cypriot golden visas because the false accusation of passports or residence is only of use for nefarious means? We have seen that Pakistan is the leader in fake passports and fake documents. They have received over 4 billion euros in aid since 2014. We deplore the impacts," Bilde had said.

Bilde's statement followed a terrorist attack, which happened in Paris on September 25, where two persons were killed outside Charlie Hebdo's former office.

The French media had reported that the terrorist was a Pakistani citizen who had entered France illegally and applied for citizenship by falsifying his documents, the report said.

Fulvio Martusciello, Ryszard Czarnecki and Gianna Garcia, Bilde's counterparts, have also expressed their concerns on the matter in a letter that was later addressed to the French government and the EU in a bid to impose sanctions against repeated terrorist activities in Pakistan.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by FreshersLIVE.Publisher : IANS-Media