HOW THE MFA COVERED UP A SECURITY THREAT: A large group of “businessmen” from Pakistan disappeared after entering BiH

HOW THE MFA COVERED UP A SECURITY THREAT: A large group of “businessmen” from Pakistan disappeared after entering BiH

And while the state institutions imply in their unforced answers that Pakistanis are no longer in our country, a number of important questions arise, including: where they stayed and where they are now, what they did, whether they really ever left BiH, if they did – where did they go, that is, did they leave anything behind in Bosnia and Herzegovina (since they come from a country that has been fighting internal terrorism for years)

Four years after they illegally entered BiH in 2018 to “attend” one of the events organized by Bosnia Bank International – BBI (Sarajevo Business Forum, that is, Halal fair), it is unknown where they ended up and what the group of 20 or more Pakistanis do, because they have disappeared in the meantime.

Although four years have passed, the competent state services in Bosnia and Herzegovina turn a blind eye and do not open their eyes; Namely, it is still unknown where the Pakistani “businessmen” are today, as well as how long and what they were doing in BiH, that is, whether they are still in BiH, what they do and whether they represent a security threat.

All visas were approved by the current ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Islamabad, Sakib Forić, a retired General of the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a diplomat extremely close to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bisera Turković. At the same time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of BiH is consciously covering up this major security affair, undoubtedly one of the biggest since Turković headed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of BiH.

For the past months, Inforadar sent inquiries to the headquarters of BiH diplomacy, then the emergency department, and called the PR service several times to find out if we would get any answers, but Turković coldly ignored our every attempt. This attitude of Bisera Turković only confirmed the reliable information of Inforadar that the diplomatic and security scandal with Pakistani “businessmen” was covered up.

How deep the affair is in itself is evidenced by the fact that our team spent several months investigating the very background of the story, which in the end turned out to be one of the “most closed”, considering that everyone in the chain of responsibility remains silent or shirks responsibility.

Tekst se nastavlja ispod oglasa

Namely, during 2018, BBI organized two events, first the Sarajevo Business Forum (SBF) at the end of April, and then at the end of September of the same year, the Halal Fair. Several groups of Pakistanis and “Pakistani” businessmen received visas from Ambassador Forić to enter Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to attend these events, and one whole group just disappeared during this period. However, it is not known whether Forić granted them single-entry or multiple-entry visas, that is, whether they entered BiH in April and disappeared between April and September, or whether they entered only in September 2018 and then disappeared.

Inforadar exclusively publishes the names of most of the “missing”. They are: Akram Tahir, Saeed Muhammad, Ullah Fozia Hameed, Tasswar Iqbal, Mehmood Anam, Noman Ali, Ahmad Haseeb, Arslan Muhammad, Kamran Chaudhry Muhammad, Ali Barbar, Gulraiz Mohsin, Iqbal Zahid, Mohsin Gulraiz and Nasir Mahmood.

The picture we are publishing was created during another event from 2018 in Sarajevo, the International Sports Equipment Fair, which was organized by the Sarajevo Canton in mid-May. On it, we see Ambassador Forić in the company of Pakistani Haris Khan, a man who, interestingly, was previously refused entry by a European country and sent back to Pakistan, so the question arises, how could he then enter Bosnia and Herzegovina? Today, according to our information, Khan lives and works in Sarajevo with proper papers.

If Bosnia and Herzegovina were an organized state, the disappearance of the Pakistanis would have set off all alarms from the start due to a possible security threat. However, as BiH is far from a normal state, this problem was not only pushed under the carpet, but the competent institutions were informed about everything months later. Now one can only guess what the role of the Pakistanis really was and with what intention they came to the heart of Europe in the first place, that is, stayed in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

What has been confirmed to Inforadar from security sources is that this group arrived in BiH from the Punjab – Gujrat/Gujranwala area, widely known for illegal migrants. Ambassador Forić knew all this very well, but despite that, he approved their visas. Although the question of why is raised here, that question is not for us, but for the rule of law.

It is worth reminding that to this day Forić has not been called to account, but, on the contrary, has been rewarded in the meantime with lobbying and support of the current Minister of Foreign Affairs.

After our portal received all the relevant information and necessary confirmations from the police a few months ago, Inforadar’s interlocutor from the security services, and later officially the competent institution, confirmed that in 2018 a large group of Pakistani citizens who were issued visas for the SBF arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Our source explains the procedures.

“It is not possible to do much when people with properly issued visas show up at the airport, because the main checks in such cases are carried out by the ambassador during the interview, after which he issues them visas. What we know is that after entering BiH, a larger group of about 20 of these ‘businessmen’ simply disappeared,” says an Inforadar interlocutor close to the security services.

And while the state institutions imply in their unforced answers that Pakistanis are no longer in our country, a number of important questions are raised, among which: where were they staying and where are they now, all the time of their “disappearance”, what were they doing, did they ever really leave BiH, if so – where did they go, and did they leave anything behind in BiH (since they come from a country that has been fighting internal terrorism for years), because it is absolutely certain that the “businessmen” never returned to Pakistan.

In this particular case, all Inforadar interlocutors informed about the background of the affair believe that the Sarajevo Business Forum (which works on the principle of attracting business and a registration fee of 500 euros per person) does not bear the key responsibility, unlike Ambassador Forić, who had to check and establish the reasons and background arrival of these “businessmen”.

However, everything points to the fact that it is a well-organized plan for the arrival of foreign citizens, in which the SBF only served as an ideal cover.

Our source explains that applications from various countries arrive at the address of the SBF, after which they turn to the competent embassy to carry out the necessary checks on the applicants in order to issue visas for BiH. These checks include interviews with applicants by the ambassador. Such is the official procedure.

Competent institutions in BiH, in this particular case, showed a widely known non-transparency, while some of them grossly violated the Law on Freedom of Access to Information because we waited up to two months for answers. We did not receive clear and specific answers to specific questions about the “businessmen” from Pakistan and what they did, how long they stayed, and whether and where they went after their stay in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we didnt receive a response from any institution except partially from the Service for Affairs with foreigners, from whose answers it is absolutely clear that four years ago there was a major security problem.

After 30 days, the Service for Affairs with Foreigners of Bosnia and Herzegovina “replied” to us that, in the specific case, “certain irregularities were observed” (!), after which the criteria according to the SBF were tightened.

“You addressed a question related to citizens of Pakistan who came to BiH in 2018 at the invitation of the BBI Bank to attend the Sarajevo Business Forum. In this regard, we inform you that the Service for Affairs with Foreigners certifies invitation letters proving the purpose of entry of a foreign citizen in the procedure that precedes the issuance of visas. In the process of a request for verification of an invitation letter, the Service for Affairs with Foreigners carries out checks in the official records at its disposal as well as in the records of authorities responsible for law enforcement in BiH, and performs operational checks in the field, after which the invitation letter for the inviter is certified. Issuing visas is the responsibility of the diplomatic and consular missions of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In connection with the above, the Service for Affairs with Foreigners came to know and observed certain irregularities related to the persons invited by BBI Bank to participate in the forum that took place in 2018, and the foreseen measures and actions from the competence of the Service were carried out in the aforementioned all relevant security authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been notified. According to the information, the mentioned persons are not in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also, the Service tightened the criteria for the verification of invitation letters for the specific caller, which resulted in certain limitations in terms of his credibility”, replied the Service for Affairs with Foreigners of BiH.

How much we take into account potential security threats is best revealed by the answers we received from the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA), that is, the BiH Border Police.

SIPA stated that the movement and stay of foreign citizens “is not within their competence”, and the Border Police stated that “they are not authorized to collect and record data on the entry of foreigners into BiH.”

In the end, everything comes back to the starting point, which in this case is Ambassador Forić, who could have easily prevented the entry of these people if he had checked each of the Pakistani “businessmen” in more detail during the interview. But maybe that wasn’t the goal. An interlocutor close to the Service for Foreigners states that in this case the ambassador was, among other things, obliged to check whether any of these “businessmen” already possessed a Schengen visa of a European country.

“After that, he was obliged to check whether he was registered when he had already travelled to some destinations in Europe, or for example on a business trip to Dubai. If he brought a new passport, the ambassador could very easily request that the old one be presented to him for inspection. In other words, Ambassador Forić, if he wanted to, could have seen only on the basis of the interview whether these were serious people with business intentions, or, as it will turn out, people who had completely different goals for coming and entering BiH”, the Inforadar source explains.

On the other hand, if they want to bypass the usual procedures, any BiH ambassador in disorderly and corrupt states can easily abuse his position and facilitate the arrival of migrants for a certain bribe. What happened in this case – is not up to the journalists to determine.

It is only an open secret in diplomatic circles that tens of thousands of US dollars are allocated for the arrival of migrants in this way.

It is also not unknown that behind richer migrants are often corrupt government officials who provide a “guarantee” for them.

Since October 2017, Ambassador Forić himself has been the diplomatic representative of BiH in Pakistan, a country with which BiH has almost no economic exchange. However, it is interesting that the current minister, Bisera Turković, has visited Forić in Islamabad on several occasions, twice in the last ten months alone for meetings and summits of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (IOC). However, the question arises of the real reasons for these visits, since Bosnia and Herzegovina is not a member of the IOC, which, on the other hand, was conceived and operates for the countries of the eastern climate.

What is even more interesting is that Turković was in Islamabad in March of this year and in the company of Forić held a meeting with the then Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of the OIC summit, just a few weeks after Imran Khan himself went to Putin on his feet on the 23rd and 24th February (!), that is, on the day of the start of the Russian aggression against Ukraine. He was later deposed as prime minister.

Photo: Bisera Turkovic and Ambassador Forić with Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan who was assassinated shortly after

We remind you that Forić was also at the centre of a diplomatic scandal in 2016, because Bosnia and Herzegovina first proposed him as an ambassador to the NATO military mission in Brussels, but he did not receive the green light from NATO.