ISLAMABAD - After facing embarrassment internationally due to rising cases of human smuggling from the country’s airports with the alleged connivance of the immigration staff of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the agency had decided to install biometric system at all the airports to check this illegal practice, The Nation has learnt.

Furthermore, FIA has also decided to install a well-coordinated surveillance system at all the airports of the country with the coordination of Airport Security Force (ASF), Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to control cases of human smuggling as well as human trafficking.

The FIA has taken these steps after recently in an incident of human smuggling, 10 Afghan nationals had travelled from Benazir Bhutto International Airport (BBIA) Islamabad to London’ Heathrow Airport on fake travelling documents as well as fake visas and were nabbed at the Heathrow. The UK atrocities had taken up this matter with the Pakistan at higher level and the incident not only brought a bad name to the country but also for FIA. However, FIA like the past is trying to push this issue under the carpet, as this is not the first case of the human smuggling during this year.

A senior officer of FIA informed The Nation that biometric machines were being installed at all airports within a week to check the flow of passengers travelling and to identify passengers travelling on fake documents etc.

According to details, biometric system will be connected with National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and Directorate General of Immigration and Passports (DGI&P). The modalities are being finalized with the departments concerned, the officer said adding that with this system, the documents of every passenger could be verified through his/her biometrics and thus practice of travelling of illegal passengers could be checked from the country’s airports. These biometric machines will be installed at the arrival and departure sections of all airports. The FIA is earlier using Integrated Border Management System (IBMS) that has been installed at all the entry and exit routes of the country to have the data of the passengers travelling to and from Pakistan. 

In addition to that, FIA has also decided to install well-coordinated surveillance system at all the airports of the country and under which CCTV cameras would be installed. Presently, Airport Security Force, Anti Narcotic Force (ANF) and FIA operate their own security cameras separately at the airport as all the agencies concerned have installed their systems separately. Under the new system, only single security system of CCTV cameras would be installed at the airport and only Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) would operate that, FIA officer said.

The FIA has also decided to change the standing operating procedures for the checking of passengers and it has been decided that details of every passenger and staff of each plane will be checked after the completion of boarding and then FIA’ immigration staff would give a clearance certificate to the plane to fly.

The officer said that the number of FIA officials had been increased at the immigration counters of the airports.

After the incident of human smuggling of 10 Afghan nationals from Islamabad airport, acting Director General (DG) DG FIA Ghalib Ali Bandesha had also visited Islamabad airport and chaired a meeting of CAA, FIA and other departments concerned to review all arrangements at the immigration counters.

The Afghan nationals who had travelled to Heathrow Airport had not only fake visas but also fake passports as well. However, the Interior Ministry and the FIA instead of taking action against the senior officers only made scapegoat the junior officers following the past practice. A deputy director, an assistant director and a shift in-charge and two constables had been suspended in the case.