Immigration services at Pakistani airports have been put on alert after 1,000 Schengen visa stickers were stolen from the Italian embassy in Islamabad, officials said on Wednesday.
Travellers to Europe were being monitored closely to track down the stolen visas, said at least two officials of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), which deals with immigration.
“We know the tracking numbers of stolen stickers and are on the look if someone uses them,” one of the officials said.
The Schengen stickers disappeared this month from the visa department of the Italian embassy, which is located inside a highly-fortified diplomatic enclave.
The embassy had asked Pakistani authorities to track down travellers trying to fly to Europe using the stolen stickers, according to the Foreign Ministry.
Pakistan agencies probing the theft believe people smugglers could have bribed officials at the embassy to steal the visas.
Thousands of Pakistanis pay huge sums to people smugglers to reach Europe using fake, forged or stolen documents.
Schengen visas, which allow entry to 26 European countries, are the most prized documents and people pay millions for them.
Thefts of visa stickers have recurred in Pakistan on a limited scale, but this was by far the biggest one, the FIA officials said.