Pak Govt to expand probe in license for prohibited weapons

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Islamabad, July 31 (ANI): A ban imposed by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on issuance of licences for arms of prohibited bore is likely to remain in place as the government has decided to expand an investigation into award of thousands of permits for banned weapons.

The Federal Investigating Agency (FIA) is probing interior ministry officials involved in unauthorised issuance of licences. The National Assembly's Standing Committee on Interior had on Wednesday expressed dissatisfaction over the outcome of an initial inquiry after which three section offices were arrested.

The committee recommended a wide-ranging inquiry to uncover every official involved in the scam.

"The committee has sought complete details of licences so far issued by the ministry and it is looking at the inquiry from various angles," the committee's chairman, Abdul Qadir Patel, said.

He said the scam appeared to be much bigger than initially perceived and the committee wanted a comprehensive probe.

"The ban will remain imposed until the committee completes its own inquiry into the scandal," The Dawn quoted Patel, as saying.

On receiving complaints of use of illegal means to get licences for banned arms, Gilani had banned issuance of permits and directed the NA committee to probe the matter.

In its initial inquiry, the FIA had confirmed use of fake bank receipts and stamps and forged signatures by middle-ranking officials of the ministry on receiving gratification from applicants.

Investigations also revealed that part of the record in the arms branch of the ministry was missing, strengthening fears that the number of licences issued could have been higher than what is known.

According to a report placed before the NA committee, 28,527 licences of prohibited weapons were issued from March 28, 2008, to June 25 this year. According to a ministry official, demand notices for about 10,000 more licences had been issued. (ANI)

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