ISLAMABAD - After the interior ministry, the credibility of NADRA regarding the issuance of arms licences is at stake, as theFederal Investigation Agency (FIA) has started a thorough probe into a fake arms licences scam over the alleged involvement of some officials of National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).

To address a number of complaints that federal interior ministry has issued thousands of fake arms licences soon after the formation of PPP-led federal government in 2008, then interior minister Rehaman Malik had decided to hand over the ‘computerisation of arms licences project’ to NADRA. But unfortunately, NADRA officials allegedly followed their bosses present in the ministry.

The FIA took into its custody two senior officers of NADRA here on Wednesday afternoon in this connection and a broad based inquiry has been launched in the case in which NADRA issued computerised arms licences against the fake arms licence booklets, an official of the agency informed on the condition of anonymity.

The FIA has arrested Director NADRA Faisal Jamshed and Khalid Anayatullah, a deputy director level officer of the authority, for their alleged involvement in the scam after Chairman NADRA Tariq Malik handed over the case to the agency. Both the officials were deputed at NADRA Headquarters. The FIA has also arrested Farasat, an arms dealer, in the same case, who before the investigators has conceded his guilt in connivance with both the officials, FIA sources said.

The officials are facing charges of issuing smart card arms licences against fake arms licence booklets allegedly after receiving huge money as bribe, a senior official of NADRA confirmed on condition of anonymity.

Both the officials allegedly expedited the process of issuance of around 300 computerised arms against fake booklets and later the matter came into the notice of NADRA authorities. The NADRA brought the scandal into the notice of the interior ministry that declared all the booklets as fake.

The official said that a senior officer of the authority had brought into the notice of chairman NADRA about the irregularity and he assigned a senior director general level officer of NADRA as inquiry officer. However, the officer tried to push the inquiry under the carpet due to the reasons unknown. Upon this, chairman NADRA appointed Brigadier (Retd) Imtiaz, Director General (Legal) NADRA as the new inquiry officer.

Brigadier (Retd) Imtiaz held an internal inquiry and found both the officers guilty and reported to the top boss the authority, the official added. The Chairman NADRA after going through the findings of the inquiry handed over the case to FIA for detailed inquiry.

“On Wednesday, a deputy director level officer of FIA visited NADRA headquarters and arrested both these officers,” a lower level employee of NADRA, who was an eyewitness, said.

NADRA spokesperson Naz Shoeb said that she was not clear about the exact allegations being faced by these two officials, however, both were under suspension. She said basically the issue was about the issuance of arms licences and both the officers had been arrested after chairman NADRA wrote to the FIA pointing out the irregularity.

Former interior minister Rehman Malik in 2011 had announced to start the ‘arms licences revalidation project’ of NADR in the name of deweaponisation of country. Then interior minister by giving a deadline had said that all arms licences issued by the ministry of interior should get revalidated by NADRA, otherwise, all would stand cancelled after the given date. Later, the deadline was kept on changing. The ministry had advised all licence holders to approach NADRA for revalidation of their licences by surrendering their arms licence booklets and in lieu there of they would be issued computerised arms licences.