Pakistani diplomat withdrawn
A Pakistani diplomat was withdrawn from Bangladesh on Saturday after intelligence dug out his involvement in terror financing and currency forgery racket.
Mohammad Mazhar Khan, attaché at the consular section of Pakistan high commission in Dhaka, was also an agent of his country's secret service ISI, foreign ministry officials said.
He had set up a wide network of producing and distributing fake Indian currency, they added.
An intelligence report said Mazhar in collaboration with some colleagues at the high commission used to channel the money earned through his currency scam to Hizb ut-Tahir, Ansarullah Bangla Team and Jamaat-e-Islami.
Mazhar left Dhaka with his family after the foreign ministry, instead of going for harsher measures like deportation, asked Islamabad to withdraw the diplomat in a week, officials said.
Contacted, a senior diplomat at the Pakistan high commission said, “We have nothing to say on the matter. Whatever response would come would be from our foreign affairs spokesperson.”
A top official at the foreign ministry yesterday confirmed that the Pak high commission notified them of Mazhar leaving Dhaka on January 31 and surrendering the diplomatic identification card.
However, many in the foreign office question why a diplomat found involved in such grave crimes was let go without being expelled or declared persona non grata.
Mazhar came under intelligence radar following the confessional statement by Mujibur Rahman, a Bangladeshi citizen who told a Dhaka court that the Pak diplomat was directly involved in collecting and smuggling fake Indian currency.
An intelligence agency took the lead and probed to unearth that Mujibur and another Bangladeshi Jalil Akhter took part in counterfeit Indian currency collection, its distribution at home and smuggling to India. And both were in close contact with Mazhar.
According to the intelligence report, Mazhar have close ties also with some ex-army and police officers, some teachers of Dhaka University and other universities, officers of Pakistan International Airlines, different businessmen and a section of Bangladeshi nationals residing in bordering areas of Lalmonirhat, Thakurgaon, Jessore and Benapole.
The report read most of the Bangladeshi nationals having links with Mazhar were engaged in the activities of various militant organisations in the country.
According to official sources, intelligence agencies learnt that the earnings through the fake currency scam were given to militant outfits like Hizb-ut-Tahrir and Ansarullah Bangla Team and Jamaat-Shibir axis for various sabotage acts. The Burdwan blast is such an act of terror.
The intelligence report, obtained by The Daily Star, read that Mazhar Khan and Mujibur were detained by police at Banani Maitree market around 6:30pm on January 12 when the two met secretly.
Mazhar tore down some documents just at the time of being detained. From the pieces of papers, police found some Bangladeshi passport numbers and names of three people who were directly involved with Hizb ut-Tahrir.
The duo was taken to Banani Police Station for interrogation. Later around 10:00pm, First Secretary of Pakistan high commission Samina Mahtab rushed to the police station and took away Mazhar.
Mujibur, who remained in police custody, told interrogators that he was acquainted with Mazhar through the latter's predecessor.
In the last eight to 10 years, Mujibur travelled to Pakistan 20 times, India 11 times and Thailand 22 times. On the latest occasion, Mazhar had given Mujibur 1.80 lakh fake Indian rupees to circulate.
Over the last two years of his “diplomatic assignment” in Dhaka, Mazhar was busy implementing various ISI agenda, including anti-state subversive activities. He reportedly created his network in Bangladesh by abusing his diplomatic identity.
Arresting Pakistani citizen and seizing fake Indian currency have become common phenomena. In 2012, some members of Laskhar-e-Taiba were arrested with foreign currency of Tk 10 crore. Three of them were Pakistanis.
Pakistani citizens Md Danish, Sabbir and Bangladeshi Fatema Akhtar were arrested with 10 lakh fake Indian rupee on January 18 last year. And on January 21, a Bangladeshi citizen named Zahid Hasan was arrested with 50 thousand forged Indian notes.
This year, Pakistani national Mohammad Imran was arrested at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on January 15 with 80 lakh fake Indian rupee. He came to Bangladesh allegedly with fake passport and visa.
Sumon, a fake currency trader, was arrested with 90 thousand Saudi riyal at Jatrabari in the capital on February 8 and Abdul Mannan Hawlader, an Indian national, was arrested with 10 thousand Indian rupee at Gulistan on February 10.
A few days later, three active members of counterfeit currency racket -- Abdur Rahim alias Badsha, 48, Mehedi Hasan and Rabeya Akhter Sathi -- were busted with fake Bangladeshi and Indian notes worth Tk 3.03 lakh and Rs 54 thousand.