Pakistan probes nationals arrested for working in Israel, tracks visas and remittances 

Kashif Imran

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has been investigating five Pakistani nationals, who were arrested this week for working in Israel, and approached various local and foreign authorities to track their visas and remittances, the agency said late Friday.

Pakistan does not recognize the state of Israel and calls for an independent Palestinian state based on “internationally agreed parameters” and the pre-1967 borders with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital. 

Due to the absence of diplomatic ties, Pakistani nationals cannot travel to Israel, let alone take up jobs there. The Pakistani passport explicitly states that it is valid in all countries of the world, except Israel. 

The FIA this week arrested five Pakistani nationals for taking up employment in Israel in violation of the South Asian country’s laws. The arrested men, belonging to the southern Pakistani district of Mirpur Khas, had been booked for violating Pakistan’s Passport Act 1974 and the Emigration Ordinance 1979. 

“In further progress of the case, record obtained from GPO Mirpurkhas revealed that 108 transactions worth rupees Rs.113,00,000 ($41,488) have been made from Israel to GPO Mirpurkhas by the accused persons,” the FIA said in a statement. 

“PIA (Pakistan International Airlines), Emirates Airlines, Qatar Airlines and Etihad Airways have been approached to obtain record related to the tickets booked by the accused persons. The embassies of Kenya, Sri Lanka, Switzerland and UAE have been approached through MOFA to obtain the record related to the visas issued to the accused persons.” 

The operation to arrest these individuals was initiated last month after authorities picked up remittances trail and found concrete evidence that established they had been working in Israel for years. 

“It has also been revealed that apart from the accused persons nominated in all five FIRs, some other relatives have also visited Israel, such data has been shared with IBMS (Integrated Border Management System) to obtain the complete travel histories of families of the accused persons,” the agency added. 

The accused are currently being held in judicial custody at the Mirpur Khas Central Jail, according to the FIA. They had been working as helpers and car washers in Tel Aviv and stayed there for four to seven years. 

Since the Pakistani passport was not valid in Israel, the arrestees had gained entry into the Jewish state through an Israeli agent, paying Rs300,000 to Rs400,000 ($1,090 to $1,453) per person. To enter Israel, the suspects would reach Jordan via Turkiye, Kenya and Sri Lanka, and would return to Karachi from Jordan via transit in Dubai. 

The development came months after reports emerged of some Pakistani goods being sold in Israeli markets that stirred a controversy in the South Asian country. The reports came after a New York-based group of American Jews said the first shipment of “Pakistan-origin food products” had been offloaded in Israel in April. 

The American Jewish Congress said the transaction involved Pakistan-Jewish businessman Fishel Benkhald, based in the country’s financial hub of Karachi, and three Israeli businessmen from Jerusalem and Haifa. Benkhald also shared on Twitter a video of dates, dried fruit, and spices he “exported” from Pakistan to the Israeli market. 

However, Pakistan’s foreign office categorically denied that the South country had “exported” any such goods, reiterating there had been “no change” in Islamabad’s policy regarding Tel Aviv. 

Courtesy: arabnews