Pakistani Narcotics Dealers and Smugglers Posing as Tourists Have Turned Sri Lanka Into Drug Trafficking Hub.

By

Gihan Kamalesh Weerasinghe

The Sri Lanka Government has come to a firm decision to not issue on-arrival visas to Pakistan and Afghan nationals in the future. The government has decided to do so, based on local and international intelligence reports that extremists have infiltrated the island in the guise of tourists.

Figures compiled by the Department of Immigration and Emigration point to the fact that the majority of tourists to Sri Lanka are from India and Pakistan. The government has doubts about their genuineness as tourists.Immigration authorities took about 40 Afghan and Pakistanis into custody last week. Already 189 are in Boossa and Mirihana detention centers.

According to military intelligence, the majority of Indians come here in search of jobs disguised as tourists. Indians are commonly seen in the Northern and Eastern Provinces selling saris, sarongs and ornaments. Military intelligencehas reported that Indian intelligence – RAW agents – are also among these fake tourists. Therefore, defence authorities have intensified operations to apprehend Indians who are engaged in trading in the Northern and Eastern Provinces and to deport them.

Meanwhile, the Indian defence authorities urged Sri Lanka to look into the matter of Pakistan nationals engaging in terrorist activities against India using Sri Lankan soil. This was also behind the government decision to abolish the on-arrival visa system for Pakistan nationals.

The story of Pakistani extremists setting up in Sri Lanka against India came to light with the arrest of a Sri Lankan Muslim named Zakir Hussain in Chennai by Indian defence authorities. Sri Lankan intelligence authorities say India has informed Sri Lanka that Zakir Hussain was a double agent who went to India to spy for a Pakistani extremist Islam organization of Pakistan. The suspect is still in the custody of India.

Detained

Meanwhile, the Department of Immigration and Emigration together with military intelligence launched an operation to arrest Pakistan nationals who have registered in the office of United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) after entering the island under on-arrival visa. Some of these Pakistan nationals stay in Sri Lanka for many years pending political asylum in foreign countries.

Within a fortnight operations, the authorities have arrested 143 Pakistan nationals, who are now detained in the Boossa camp, along with terrorist suspects, under the protection of Terrorism Investigation Department. Military Intelligence has started questioning them.

Intelligence sources say the majority of drug traffickers to Sri Lanka are Pakistani nationals. They have made Sri Lanka a drug trafficking hub. Intelligence wings have also revealed that Pakistan nationals are engaged in many other illegal rackets, including smuggling babul beeda, dangerous drugs and contraceptives.

According to military intelligence, the Pakistan nationals who arrive in Sri Lanka in the guise of tourists have become a threat to national security. Zakir Hussain was sent to India to spy by one of the extremist organizations that use Sri Lankan soil.

The number of Pakistan nationals who have applied for refugee status from the UNHCR office of Colombo is 1,570. A further 270 persons whose refugee statuses have been recognized, are pending political asylum, in countries like the US, Canada and Switzerland.

The 1,570 persons who have applied for refugee status from the UNHCR office in Colombo stay in Sri Lanka, producing the letter issued by the UNHCR, although their visas have expired.
These persons stay in the country without a visa. When the Department of Immigration and Emigration acted against them, the UNHCR office protested. But the Immigration and Emigration authorities now have the permission from the authorities to arrest and deport visitors whose visas are overdue.

Most of the Pakistanis belong to the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam and claim they are under threat by Islamic extremists in Pakistan. They say the Islamic fundamentalists believe their sins would be forgiven if they kill Ahmadiyya Muslims, thus putting the Ahmadiyya Muslims under severe threat. However, military intelligence said that Muslim extremists have also arrived in Sri Lanka disguised as Ahmadiyyas.

Authorities did not investigate these Pakistan nationals after they applied for refugee status from the UNHCR. They are said to be freely roaming in the country, sometimes marrying Sri Lankans. Some were caught by police when they engaged in robberies. Some have purchased flats in Colombo and live with their families. Some of them have lived here for six to seven years and this is the first time they are being investigated. State intelligence services are now preparing files on each of them. Some of them have been arrested and detained in the Boossa camp.

Many attempts to get comments from the Pakistan and Indian Embassies failed.

Courtesy:Ceylon Today