Spain evacuates 294 more Afghanis and Pakistani Consul General in Barcelona sacked for sexual harrasment

Mirza Salman Baig Pakistani spain

It has been an eventful few days for Spain as it evacuated hundreds of Afghanis from the Taliban-held country, the Pakistani Consul General in Barcelona was sacked over sexual harassment and another Pakistani diplomat was involved in a visa scam.

A plane provided by the Spanish government has brought 294 more Afghan refugees via Pakistan to Spain, authorities said Thursday, bringing to 3,900 the number evacuated by Madrid since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan last year.

Spain said the latest group of Afghan workers and their families flew into an air base near Madrid late Wednesday and were met by government officials, including Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister José Albares.

“This flight is further evidence that we are keeping our commitment to not leave anyone behind,” Albares said in a statement.

The group included people who had worked for or helped Spanish government officials and Spanish troops stationed in Afghanistan before the Taliban takeover. The statement said Spain has carried out five evacuation operations over the past year.

Albares told Spanish National Television on Thursday that the government will continue to bring former Afghan workers and their families to Spain, but for security reasons he couldn't say how many.

Spain launched the flights to bring workers who hadn’t been able to leave Afghanistan during the airlift operation in August 2021, when it pulled out about 2,200 Spaniards and Afghans via Kabul’s airport.

Elsewhere a senior Pakistani diplomat and Consul General of Paki­stan in the Spanish city of Barce­lona, Mirza Salman Baig, has been sacked from his position on sexual harassment charges levelled by a local staffer of the consulate, credible sources said yesterday.

The sources told The Na­tion that the name of the staff­er, which is not being disclosed, lodged the complaint with Pa­kistani Ambassador Shujat Ra­thore in Madrid, who later re­ferred the matter to Foreign Office in Islamabad for further investiga­tion.

The For­eign Min­istry sent a two-mem­ber team to Barcelona and Madrid to probe the case. They complet­ed the investigation, on the basis of which the Foreign Of­fice removed the officer from his position and recalled him to the headquarters in Islam­abad, where he is facing disci­plinary proceedings.

According to more details, the victim who was hired local­ly also filed the complaint with the Spanish justice department which contacted the Pakistan Ambassador in Spain.

In her complaint, she alleged that the counsel general used to send her messages through social media, which, she claimed, were harassment. She in her complaint also claimed that the officer tried to make sexual assault on her in a hotel in Barcelona.

Mirza Salman Baig during the interrogation, however, de­nied the charges against him and disclosed that he wanted to sack her (the complainant), which was why she turned against him.

The Nation tried to contact the Foreign Ministry spokes­person and Pakistani Ambas­sador to Spain Shujat Rathore, but there was no response from both of them till the filing of the report.

The sources said if Salman Baig is proved guilty during the disciplinary proceedings in the Foreign Office, he would face termination from service.

Mirza Salman Babar Baig started his diplomatic career in 2003. He has served in Germa­ny, Serbia, Australia and Japan as a diplomat.

At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Pakistan, he has looked after various desks dealing with Europeans af­fairs, United Nations, Organi­sation of Islamic Conference, Japan and Korea.

He was last posted as Di­rector General in the office of Speaker of National Assembly of Pakistan.

Elsewhere, a high-ranking Pakistani diplomat, who faced serious allegations of human smuggling in March, is at the core of a visa scam as he tried to persuade the European embassies in Islamabad to illegally get visas for Pakistan nationals.

A complaint was filed against the high-ranking Pakistani diplomat Israr Husain by Tariq Javid Khan, a former government servant who is in the visa business.

Several emails issued to different embassies along with proofs of payment made to the accused diplomat were attached to the application, The News International reported.

Husain used to work as an additional secretary of Europe and he would try to persuade the European embassies in Islamabad to get visas for Pakistan nationals. He allegedly tried to send around 11 individuals to Spain.

Husain had earlier also served as Pakistan's ambassador in Czech Republic. Khan alleged that Husain "made an offer to facilitate the issuance of visit, work and residency visas for Italy, the Czech Republic, Spain, Poland and South Korea. He also introduced me to the ambassadors of these countries in Pakistan."

He added that he has the complete record of all payments he made to Hussain in the form of bank receipts, local media reported.

Khan also added that he also has a record of all videos, voice and text messages exchanged between the two.

The visa was not issued and the Pakistani diplomat had refused to return the money and warned him of dire consequences in case the word went out.

Khan collected PKR 1.5 million from a group of Pakistani Qawwal (cultural troupe) by saying that he arranged their tickets, accommodations and all other expenses in Prague, the capital of Czech Republic, and he promised that they would get work and residency permits.

Around 10 Pakistanis also joined the troupe. However, the group had to seek asylum because Husain did not keep his promise.

The complaint added that the ambassador of Italy, Czech Republic and Spain "will be happy to confirm Husain's disorderly conduct and they will provide evidence regarding his continuous requests for the illegal issuances of visas."

They are not his associates but friends or assistants, none of them has travelled before and they don't seem to comply with the requirements established by Schengen regulations, the publication said.

A formal complaint regarding Husain's deceptive conduct was submitted to the foreign office by the ambassador of Czech Republic in Pakistan and the ambassador of Pakistan in Czech Republic.

"An investigation was carried out by the Foreign Office, however, Husain was exonerated due to his batchmates being the investigators of the case," Khan wrote.

Notably, Khan has withdrawn his complaint in an out-of-office settlement with Husain, it reported.

"Since the allegations are specific in nature and evidence has also been shared, it is yet to be seen what the ministry does. Ideally, it should hold an inquiry. The ministry can't stop doing that on the whims of a complainant. Rather, he should also be investigated," an official said.

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