Islamabad: Five Pakistanis currently under investigation for traveling to Israel on Pakistani passports have five family members still in Israel; He has also told investigators that for personal safety reasons, he hid his religious identity while living in Israel.
The Federal Investigation Authority arrested five residents of Mirpurkhas – Muhammad Anwar, Muhammad Kamran Siddiqui, Kamil Anwar, Muhammad Zeeshan and Noman Siddiqui – after the State Bank of Pakistan noticed foreign remittances from an unusual destination: Israel – the only country where none Can travel on Pakistani passport.
The remittance was wire transferred through Western Union in small amounts and received at its Mirpurkhas branch located in the General Post Office. A total amount of about Rs 2 million was sent to Pakistan over a period of six years by some of the arrested persons, who were working as car washes or helpers in Israel.
An FIA official told news Eight members of this family had traveled to Israel at different times over the years. Some of them return in 2021, others in 2022. Three of them are senior citizens and are said to be in poor health; He has not yet been named in the FIR.
During investigation, one of the arrested persons revealed that he also had an aunt living in Israel. Rifka – originally from Pakistan – is believed to have moved to Israel around 40 years ago. After he converted to Islam, his father married a Jewish woman of Iranian origin. Rifka has two brothers – Muhammad Anwar, Muhammad Aslam – and a sister, Sitara.
All these persons are Pakistani, have traveled to Israel and according to an FIA official, they are above 65 years of age. Sitara’s husband, Abdul Majeed Siddiqui, and two sons Noman Siddiqui and Kamran Siddiqui also visited Israel. This money was sent from Israel by Noman and Kamran. Anwar’s son Kamil, who was among the accused, also went to Israel.
The travel arrangements for the family were made by Ishaq Matat, who is said to be Rifka’s husband. Anwar said in a statement to the FIA that he paid Ishak Rs 300,000 for logistical and travel support and to find work in Tel Aviv. Israeli newspaper Haaretz identified Issac Matat, CEO of a carpet firm founded by Jews from Pakistan, but found no evidence linking him to those arrested. It is not clear whether the Ishaq family also came from Pakistan or elsewhere.
Having spent so much time in Israel, the arrested individuals had concealed their religious identity while living there. On coming back home it was found that one of them is Hafiz-e-Quran and he is a follower of Barelvi sect. According to the FIA official, one of them runs a general store, the other owns a beauty parlour. When he was traveling to Israel, people in his area were told that he was in Switzerland.
The drive to trace these persons began last month after the Financial Monitoring Unit of SBP noted the remittance coming from Israel. Although the amount sent was not large (Rs 2 million), it raised some curiosity about the recipients and the nature of their business in Israel. The FIA has registered an FIR against these people for their illegal stay in Israel as their Pakistani passports are not valid for traveling to Israel.
The number of Jews in Pakistan is negligible, most of them in Sindh. An FIA official says that some people are believed to be living in Mirpurkhas and Umerkot as well. In the 2013 general election, approximately 809 adult Jews were reported to be enrolled as voters; In 2017, this number increased to 900. Most of them choose to hide their religious identity for security reasons. The Jewish community in Pakistan last attracted attention in 2019 when the only openly declared Pakistani Jew, Fishel Khalid, was allowed by the government to travel to Israel.
Originally published in news