ISLAMABAD -  The Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF), the federal government’s leading agency working to curb narcotics, is still clueless about the “organised” racket involved in smuggling of heroin abroad through the aircrafts of the stated-owned Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

An officer of the ANF on Friday told the Senate Standing Committee on Interior that no arrest had been made so far in the two separate incidents of recovery of heroin from the PIA’s aircrafts, one at the Heathrow Airport, London and the other at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport, Islamabad.

Brigadier Hammad Ahmed Dogar, enforcement commander ANF informed the committee that met under the chair of Senator Rehman Malik that the force had probed around 60 suspects including ground staff, sanitary workers and cabin crew but no arrest could be made in the case yet.

“We have also asked PIA and [the] Airport Security Force (ASF) for the footage of CCTV cameras. The contraband was recovered in the catering gallery of the plane that was cleared to fly to London,” he said. 

The ANF officer said that a separate inquiry headed by senior police officer Hussain Asghar was underway on the directions of the prime minister and his findings would have much more significance.

“All agencies concerned including the ANF, and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) etc are included in this inquiry team,” he said.

PML-N Senator Chaudhry Tanvir informed the committee that the prime minister had to use the same plane, from which heroin was found at the Islamabad airport two days later, for his foreign tour and this could cause embracement for Pakistan, if heroin was found in the plane of the prime minister at some international airport. Dogar told the participants that British authorities were holding the probe into London incident themselves and had not shared any findings of the inquiry with Pakistan.

“We have been informed only that the quantity of heroin found was more than 11 kg,” he said.

On May 22, 14.7kg of heroin was recovered from a London-bound PIA flight at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport during an inspection led by the ANF.

Earlier, British authorities in the second week of May had said that they had found a "quantity of heroin" from a PIA flight that had landed at Heathrow Airport.

After the incidents, we have formed a comprehensive mechanism of checking and 183 PIA flights have been checked, Brigadier Dogar said.

The PML-N Senator Javed Abbasi was curious to know the name of the agency that gives clearance to aeroplanes to fly.  The ANF office said that this did not come under their domain.

Narcotics Division secretary informed the committee that this matter came under the domain of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the ASF.

The chair directed that the representatives of the CAA and the PIA should also be summoned in the next meeting.

Committee Chairman Rehman Malik remarked that an organised group was involved in this smuggling as heroin was placed into the panels of the aircraft that was recovered by the British authorities.

Each panel of the aircraft had a computer code to open each panel and it could not be opened without the help of the relevant engineers, he said.

The chair also ordered the FIA to start a separate inquiry into the matter as this kind of smuggling could not be done without the help of officials of the agencies concerned working at the airports.

FIA Additional DG Dr Shafique Ahmed was asked to register an inquiry into the matter. FIA Director Mazhar Kakakhel, while giving a briefing about arrest of three Afghan women from Islamabad airport on May 25, while travelling to the UK on fake travel documents, said that the case was under investigation and efforts were being made to arrest two alleged human smugglers who fled to London in the same flight.

These alleged human smugglers are Mir Altaf and Usman Hussain, he said.

Kakakhel further said that action was being taken against the two Peshawar-based agents including Ashraf Afridi and Azam Afridi who helped those three women to travel. These women gave an amount of $60,000 to the agents, he said.

Additional DG FIA informed the committee that the FIA’s Cyber Crime Wing had received 11,000 complaints during the last one year and the number was on the rise with each passing day.

The administrations of social media networking sites including Facebook in most of cases avoid sharing information in the name of freedom of expression, he said.

The chairman directed the FIA’s Cyber Crime Wing to register a case in connection with the malicious campaign being varied out against Senator Javed Abbasi on the social media and report within 15 days.