Sunday, 14 June 2020

SEVEN MONTHS IN REMAND JAIL FOR PAKISTANI NATIONAL


Zimbabwe is still holding a Pakistani national in remand prison seven months after he paid a fine for breaching immigration rules, The Standard, working together with the Information Development Trust, has established.

Waqas Haider Shah was supposed to be deported immediately after paying a fine of $300 to avoid a jail term imposed on him by a Beitbridge magistrate on October 30.

Shah (31) was arrested together with two women, Faiza Parveen and Asma Bibi — who were deported back to the Asian country after being held in prison for two months, despite also paying a $300 fine each.

Asked to explain the circumstances surrounding the continued detention of Shah, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs referred questions to Home Affairs.

The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services promised to respond to questions sent to them about the video recording of the Pakistani prisoner’s interview “inside Harare Remand Prison” and why they were still detaining Shah, but failed to do so despite weeks of follow-ups.

The Immigration department also promised to respond to questions sent to them three weeks ago, but despite several follow-ups, did not answer questions regarding Shah’s detention and the deportation of the two ladies without intimation to the Pakistani embassy.

Well-placed sources revealed that Shah sometime in February was released before he was ordered back to remand prison when he was already at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport waiting to fly to Pakistan.

“There was a message said to be coming from higher offices directing the Immigration department to order Mr Shah back to remand,” the source said.

“He was interviewed while in remand by some Zimbabweans of Pakistani origin without the knowledge of the embassy.

“The video was leaked by one Mian Sohail Qaiser and has stoked a diplomatic row between Harare and Islamabad.”

Qaiser, a Zimbabwean businessman of Pakistani origin, allegedly leaked videos of the three shot in prison implicating the Pakistan embassy in human trafficking.

In its correspondences with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Pakistani embassy accused Qaiser of using his links to the ruling Zanu PF to capture some government institutions and use them to tarnish the image of the Asian country.

Foreign Affairs permanent secretary James Manzou last month said the issue of the arrested Pakistanis was still under investigation.
  
In the interview with The Standard, Qaiser claimed that he met Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe and Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo at a marriage ceremony sometime in December 2019 and discussed the deportation of the two women.

He said he wrote a letter to Kazembe and his deputy, which was also copied to the chief immigration officer to have the two women deported.

Qaiser said Prosper Kambarami, a senior immigration officer, requested a favour from him to become an interpreter during interviews with the two ladies during their deportation process.

“I (being an interpreter) along with an immigration officer did the video interviews in the immigration office,” Qaiser said.

Qaiser contested as a ruling Zanu PF party municipal candidate in the 2018 general election.

He lost, but according to sources, he seems to have ambitions to run for MP in Warren Park in 2023 when Zimbabwe holds its next general elections.

In its many letters to the Foreign Affairs ministry, the embassy expressed concern that government departments had been interacting with Qaiser on issues concerning Pakistanis without its knowledge.

A source within the Pakistani community in Zimbabwe revealed that Qaiser was working with many Asians to undermine the Pakistani embassy.

“The real problem is that Qaiser is representing a number of Zimbabwean citizens of Pakistani descent, who are staying in the country without proper documents,” the source claimed.

“They want some embassy officials, who now have the details of their nationals staying in Zimbabwe illegally, to be withdrawn from the embassy as soon as possible.”

Qaiser did not respond to questions sent to him on his WhatsApp number, despite reading them.

Earlier, his lawyer wrote to The Standard demanding a retraction of the first story alleging his capture of institutions using Zanu PF links.

But in an interview before the story accusing him of being at the centre of a diplomatic row between Zimbabwe and Pakistan, Qaiser said the embassy staff was involved in human trafficking.

He claimed he was once involved in an altercation with the embassy’s charge d‘affaires, who threatened to kill him.

On the issue of the video recording of Shah from inside the remand prison that was released on social media, at first Qaiser admitted that he took one video, but said he didn’t share it on social media.

After being quizzed, he admitted to sending the video to the Pakistani community in South Africa claiming it was later shared on Facebook where it was picked by Pakistani news channels.

He said the video was recorded by one Qaiser Yousuf, also a Zimbabwean national of Pakistani origin.

Later on during the interview, he admitted sharing the video on the Facebook page of the Zimbabwe Asian Association to show the public “the reality”.

“Being Zimbabwean citizen, being Zanu PF and chairman of the Zimbabwe Asian Association, I cannot give permission to anyone to do human trafficking in Zimbabwe,” he said.

“After receiving the complaint against me for recording a video of the prisoner, the permanent secretary called me for the meeting and inquired about the story.

“I explained to him the whole story and added that I know the Zimbabwean law and I am a citizen of Zimbabwe and if anybody is doing a crime, I have the right to stop and arrest those people and take them to Harare Central.”

He added: “After taking my statement, Mr Manzou told me that they are going to write to the embassy to withdraw his official and thanked me for unveiling the truth.”

The embassy has described the involvement of Qaiser in Pakistani issues as a “delicate and complex situation” and is concerned that Harare is not doing enough to address its concerns after several of its letters were not responded to. Standard

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