More embarrassing than surprising, federal auditors have discovered serious financial and administrative irregularities in the books of the Pakistan High Commission in London, and its three consulates elsewhere in the United Kingdom. The list of irregularities would make the most corrupt of our politicians blush. There has been unauthorised expenditure of hundreds of thousands of British pounds, the disappearance of visa stickers and passports and the renting out of buildings without mandatory permission. The missing stickers and passports are a huge security lapse on the part of the officers and it is anyone’s guess where these missing passports and visas will crop up. Hopefully they belong to people holidaying on sunny islands, rather than to people being recruited by militants in Iraq or Pakistan. These events transpired under the watch of former High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hassan, who himself is implicated for wasting £132,567 on hired accommodation other than that allotted to him by the state.

Pakistan has a vibrant expatriate community, and incidents like these leave our people abroad open to harassment and ridicule. Having caused millions of rupees in damage, the officers that watched theft happen and further tarnished our already tattered reputation need to be brought home and brought to justice. There are also accusations of surplus staff being politically appointed and bribery. This is an office run on taxpayer money, and the money stolen belongs to the people of Pakistan. These are crimes against the state.

In 2010 an officer at the Pakistani consulate in Dubai was also found involved in selling Pakistani visas to Indian nationals, and the Qatar office had similar problems. For this latest scandal, the period of audit was 2012-13, when PPP was king and the UK mission is also reported to have spent thousands of pounds in arranging transport for Asif Ali Zardari’s visits. There was also a scandal of irregularities about visas in the US consulate during PPP tenure. The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), that will look into these reports, is PPP stalwart Mr Khurshid. Thus the status quo will remain, even with the exposé.