The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) will be conducting an investigation into how numerous individuals posing as lawyers were able to enter Europe using visas that were obtained through the unauthorized use of letterheads from the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) of Pakistan. The SCBA has lodged a complaint with the FIA director-general, requesting a thorough investigation into the unlawful use of their letterheads which facilitated the illegal transportation of non-lawyers and non-members of SCBA to Europe through fraudulent visa acquisition.
Last year in June, an unsigned letter, falsely utilizing the SCBA’s letterheads, was sent to the Austrian embassy to aid the entry of 39 individuals into Europe under the pretense of being advocates and SCBA members. The SCBA discovered this incident when the 25th executive committee assumed office in November 2022 and subsequently conducted an internal inquiry. It was revealed that the Austrian embassy was approached for Schengen visas for members of the association, and all correspondence was conducted using the SCBA’s letterheads. A list of 39 individuals, also on SCBA letterhead, was found, fraudulently issued to assist human smuggling. This list featured a reference number that had already been used previously. In August 2022, a forwarded email from the Austrian embassy to the Lahore High Court Bar Association requested verification of the list of 39 individuals.
In their complaint to the FIA, the SCBA Secretary, Muqtedir Akhtar Shabbir, expressed suspicions that many individuals listed had managed to enter Europe without returning. Due to the seriousness of the situation and the potential harm to SCBA’s reputation, the SCBA urged the FIA to conduct a comprehensive investigation to identify those responsible for misusing SCBA’s stationery, creating the list of 39 individuals, and orchestrating human smuggling. The SCBA also requested an investigation into all correspondence with the Austrian embassy regarding visa issuance, both with the Lahore High Court Bar Association and the individuals or company responsible for arranging the air tickets and itineraries of those who evaded capture.
It is important to note that the staff of the SCBA registry branch in Lahore vehemently denied the existence of the list and stated that they neither prepared such a list nor provided official stationery to anyone.