Tuesday Dec 04, 2018
ISLAMABAD: The curious case of Minister for Science and Technology Azam Khan Swati took a new turn after American authorities handed over important documents to a joint investigation team (JIT), probing alleged misuse of authority by the minister, which might land him into serious trouble.
The JIT received an important letter from US Department of Homeland Security categorically stating that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Senator Azam Khan Swati falsely represented himself as an American national in the United States of America in 2000 and 2001.
“The record of proceedings reveal that on November 12, 2000, while in B-1, non-immigrant visa status, you completed a form L-40 in personal history sheet with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission indicating that you [Mr Swati] are a citizen of the United States. The file also includes a copy of your Voter Registration Address confirmation card. While in E-2, non-immigrant status, again you [Mr Swati] represented yourself to be a citizen of the United States by voting in the May 2001 City of Port Arthur Election. But you [Mr Swati] falsely represented yourself to be a citizen of United States of America after September 30, 1996; you [Mr Swati] are statutorily ineligible to adjust your status to a lawful permanent resident. Therefore, your application must be and is hereby denied. There is no appeal to this decision,” US Immigration and Customs Enforcement International Operations, through Embassy of United States Islamabad, responded to Pakistani authorities probing Mr Swati’s case.
The letter available with this correspondent has been clubbed with the JIT report.
Mr Swati is under investigation on the issue of alleged misuse of authority where his employees were found responsible for a clash with a poor family in Islamabad, in which the Islamabad police chief was made a scapegoat later.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan had observed that Swati misused his powers seeking explanation from him under Article 62 (1)(f), which sets the precondition for a public office holder to be "sadiq and ameen" (truthful and honest). The top court also questioned the government’s decision to keep Sawati in his position under Article 62(1)(f).
The JIT sought multiple details about Swati, who according to investigators was denied visa by American authorities in September 21, 2010, and then in October 2018 because he had misled Texas authorities during his business dealings in the US in late 2000 and 2001 accordingly.
Geo News sent a questionnaire to US Embassy in Islamabad, US Department of Homeland Security and Texas authorities on Swati’s case asking these questions: “Is it true that Mr Swati misled US authorities pertaining to his visa form with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission indicating that he was an American citizen in 2000?
But the fact is he was not a US national in Nov 2000. Again Mr Swati falsely represented himself as US citizen by voting in May 2001 City of Port Arthur election. Is it true? Can Mr Swati not enter into US territory presently? If yes, what were the reasons? Is he currently holding US citizenship too? Is he or any of his family members currently facing any proceedings in any matter against him in US?”
In response to these questions, a spokesperson for the US embassy said: “Because of the US Privacy Act we cannot discuss any individual’s immigration or citizenship status. The other questions you asked related Texas State liquor licenses and voting in Texas are matters that are handled by the State of Texas and not the federal government so I would have to refer you to the relevant state authorities.”
Response of US Department of Justice on Swati’s case is still awaited.
Swati, however, on this important matter told Geo News: “We contested that [my visa case] and visa application was approved from USA in October 2018. On [my] interview [for visa], consulate needed additional documents to issue green card [to me]. I never faced any proceeding, also not on all my business, bank accounts, credit cards and I have been [a] tax payer since 1979 till today.”
The minister added: “All my tax-paid money is coming out of my bank account and my company’s account to my bank account here [and] I do not have any regular business here. All my expenses are being paid, including travelling, lodging, clothing and medical, by my American credit card and by US tax laws it is not tax deductible. I have good size social work here. So I am [among] only a few of those public servant[s] who bring their money to Pakistan.”
Swati, however, did not specifically answer to questions Geo News put forth on the basis of Department of Homeland Security’s letter.