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Interpol removes Umar Farooq Zahoor from red notice list

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LONDON: Interpol has removed businessman Umar Farooq Zahoor from the list of internationally wanted persons (Red Notice) in a high-profile case started by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) under former accountability adviser Shahzad Akbar.

The Interpol had added Dubai-based businessman Zahoor to the Red Notice database after an application moved by Zahoor’s former wife and actor Sophia Mirza (alias Khushbakhat Mirza) with help from Akbar who had tasked the FIA to go after the Dubai-based businessman at all costs.

The General Secretariat of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) in Lyon has confirmed that Zahoor is no longer subject to an Interpol Notice or diffusion.

Interpol has confirmed in a letter that “the Commission carried out the appropriate checks” in accordance with its functions and that the information concerning Zahoor provided by Pakistan has been deleted from the Interpol Information System at the request of its National Central Bureau on 28 September 2022.

Papers show that the Interpol Commission – made up of four members from US, UK, Lebanon, and Morocco –has deleted the Red Notice category for Zahoor after the FIA wrote to Interpol on September 26 confirming approval for the cancellation of the Red Notice, in a case started by FIA Punjab Zone-1.

Zahoor’s name was added to Interpol’s most wanted list after the FIA wrote to the international police making several allegations against Liberia’s Ambassador-At-Large for South East Asia, the Middle East, and Pakistan.

His name was removed from the Red List after the fresh investigation, conducted by the officers of FIA appointed by the new government, revealed that the allegations against Zahoor were frivolous and politically motivated.

Investigations established later on that the FIA was asked by Akbar to help Sophia Mirza, the former wife of Zahoor. The couple married in 2006, divorced within a year after the birth of twin daughters, and ever since they have fought a custody battle, while daughters Zainab and Zuneirah have publicly maintained they want to live with their father.

Umar Zahoor’s predicament started when the FIA Lahore Anti Human Trafficking Circle proceeded with the registration of a criminal case against Zahoor on the complaint of his ex-wife over allegations of kidnapping his own daughters. At the same time, the FIA Corporate Crime Circle Lahore also initiated an inquiry against Zahoor over allegations of fraud and money laundering of around Rs16 billion on the complaint of the same complainant Khushbakht Mirza. The complainant accused (Zahoor) of being involved in a fraud of $89.2 million in Oslo, Norway, in 2010 and another fraud involving an amount of $12 million in Bern, Switzerland, back in the year 2004.

The complaint made its way to the PTI government’s federal cabinet agenda via the Interior Ministry, being run by then Chairman of Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) Mirza Shehzad Akbar, and the federal government gave a go-ahead to the FIA to probe the alleged fraud of over Rs16 billion by Zahoor and his relative Saleem Ahmad.

In the pursuance of the false and frivolous criminal cases registered against Zahoor: his name was placed on the Exit Control List (ECL); non-bailable warrants in one of the FIRs were obtained from the Court without fulfilling the legal requirements and on the basis of said non-bailable warrants, his passport and CNIC were blacklisted and Red Warrants were issued through INTERPOL by National Crime Bureau (NCB) Pakistan for arresting Mr Zahoor. The Constitution of INTERPOL does not permit is the issuance of red notices in family and civil disputes, however; the FIA added heinous offences in the FIR registered against  Zahoor in order to apprehend him through Interpol.

Interpol confirmed that it had received requests from the government of Pakistan in the year 2020 to issue Yellow Notices against the minor daughters of actor Sophia Mirza and businessman Umar Farooq Zahoor.

The Interpol has further confirmed that international Yellow Notices for twins Zainab Umar and Zuneirah Umar were issued and their names were placed on the Interpol database for international tracing after two requests from the FIA were received on April 30, 2020 and then again in July 2020 on the request of Sophia Mirza who wanted her daughters to be traced by the Interpol and taken back to Pakistan.

Names of Zuneirah Umar and Zainab Umar were later deleted in July 2021 after an investigation by Interpol revealed that the legal custody of both the daughters had already been granted to Umar Farooq Zahoor being their father and legal guardian by the Shariah Court of Dubai.

The two letters issued by the Office of Legal Affairs General Secretariat of Interpol confirm that Zuneirah and Zainab, both of whom are 15 years old, are no longer “subject to an INTERPOL Notice or diffusion”.

In a statement, Zahoor welcomed the Interpol decision. He said: “I am glad the Interpol and the FIA have finally realised that the cases against me were cooked up by Sophia and Akbar. They used the money and resources of Pakistani taxpayers to target me in a family dispute case. For two years, they used the FIA and other institutions against me like a mafia. They used the media to run campaigns against me and did everything to destroy me but the Almighty Allah is there for all to protect.”

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Pakistan

Terrorist who martyred two ISI officials in Khanewal gunned down in IBO

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  • Terrorist was at large after killing security officials.
  • Security forces conduct joint operation to nab militant.
  • Niazi succumbs to injuries after being injured in fire exchange.

A terrorist who martyred Naveed Sadiq and Nasir Hussain — the director and inspector of the Inter-Services Intelligence’s (ISI) Counter-Terrorism Wing — was gunned down by law enforcement agencies on Monday in an intelligence-based operation (IBO) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) Kurram Agency.

The slain terrorist, identified as Umar Niazi, was at large after he martyred the two ISI officials on January 3.

The security agencies arrested the terrorist with serious injuries following an exchange of fire. Niazi succumbed to his injuries after a while.

Intelligence agencies nabbed the terrorist before he could slip into Afghanistan.

Earlier this month, the terrorist martyred ISI officials Sadiq and Hussain when they were at a local hotel in Khanewal, Punjab.

Sadiq, meanwhile, was martyred in Khanewal at a time when he was on a mission to take down the network of a banned outfit operating from Afghanistan.

South Punjab Additional Inspector General of Police (AIGP) Sahabzada Shahzad Sultan said the perpetrators were on a motorcycle.

Both officials were posthumously awarded the Hilal-e-Shujaat and Tamgha-e-Shujaat.

Sadiq, who headed the ISI’s CTD wing, was awarded the Sitara-e-Shujaat on March 23, 2021, in recognition of his bravery and courage against anti-national elements.

He joined the police force as a sub-inspector in 2002. After appearing for a high-level exam in 2009, he was appointed to the ISI, the premier intelligence agency, as the assistant director.

During his tenure, the spy agency official exposed key networks of banned outfits. After months of efforts, he gained access to the high command of Daesh. He also neutralised the terrorists after raiding and finding their ambush site in Faisalabad.

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Pakistan

Islamabad court decides to indict Imran Khan in Toshakhana case

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ISLAMABAD: A local court in Islamabad has decided to indict Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in the Toshakhana case.

The court has set February 7 as the date for the indictment of the PTI chairman. 

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Pakistan

Blast in Balochistan’s Kachhi leaves one injured

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  • Blast takes place in Kachhi district.
  • Police say explosives were placed on roadside.
  • Balochistan under constant terror attacks recently.

In yet another terror incident in the restive province of Balochistan, at least one person was injured after an explosion took place in the Kachhi district of the province, police said on Monday. 

The police told media persons that the explosives were placed on a roadside.

Balochistan has been under constant terror attacks recently with several incidents taking place in the province. 

Bolan incident

Recently, at least 18 people were injured after a remote-control bomb detonated on a railway track in Bolan, forcing the train’s engine and seven carriages off the track.

Railway authorities said that the injured had been shifted to Combined Military Hospital (CMH), Sibi.

The Jaffer Express train was travelling from Machh to Sibi, when the blast occurred, local authorities said.

“A relief train was dispatched from Sibi to rescue passengers of the train and bring them to Sibi safely. Passengers on the Jaffer Express coming from Peshawar to Machh were stopped at Sibi and are now being brought to Quetta via buses,” they added.

According to Deputy Commissioner Kachhi Agha Samiullah, the blast was carried out by a remote-control device.

On the other hand, the carriages of the derailed train are being lifted from the railway track.

Terror attacks

In the annual report issued by the Centre for Research & Security Studies (CRSS), Balochistan suffered from 110 attacks last year, becoming the second most vulnerable province in the country.

Over 250 people lost their lives in terrorist attacks and counter-attacks, whereas over 200 sustained serious injuries in the province.

The last month of the year witnessed over two dozen attacks in quick succession, and that became one-fourth of the total fatalities that occurred in Balochistan, a province which has just 6% of the country’s population.

According to reports, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Baloch Nationalist Army (BNA), the terrorist organisations, are mainly involved in terror incidents in the area-wise largest province of the country. In Balochistan, at least 14 major attacks took place mostly on security forces targets.

Security forces remained the primary target of terrorist attacks in the province.

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