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Strict visa policy

Minister for Interior and Narcotics Control Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that the government was putting in place a system to ensure that nobody entered Pakistan without proper visa and security clearance.He said that nobody could enter Pakistan without proper documentation under the new online system. In the past, visas were issued without taking any responsibility which was a matter of grave concern, he said.Nisar recalled that as leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, he repeatedly raised the issue on floor of the House and pointed out that many foreigners were entering Pakistan and getting visas without any security clearance.Many persons were arrested on check points in Islamabad, Lahore and other cities but they were later released, he told the journalists. He said it was in his notice that at that time many people were allowed to enter Pakistan without visas.The interior minister of the past government never responded to the issues raised by him, he reminded. At that time, he said he stated local administration did not know who lived in about 300-400 houses in Islamabad as the tenants were reluctant to give their identity details.But when the district administration issued deadline, all the tenants provided required information. He said that when their government came to office, a notification by the former prime minister came to his knowledge, according to which an ambassador was allowed to issue visas without any clearance from the security agencies. He said that fines of Rs 90 million were imposed on the airlines for bringing in passengers from abroad without documentation. These passengers were sent out of Pakistan on the next flight, he said.With online system for issuance of visas, if a person would even apply for visa, his record would be available to the ministry concerned as well as security departments, he explained. The minister said that the Immigration Department would be separated from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and in principle, the prime minister has given approval for the introduction of the new system.Nisar said that diplomats and others were now given visas only after security clearance. The diplomats were being issued visas after proper checks. Similarly, he said that the visas were being given after security clearance so that no intelligence or security official could enter Pakistan in guise of a diplomat, he mentioned.Pakistani missions abroad did not care much about scrutiny of visa applications despite the fact that the country was passing through a security crisis and it was known even to a layman that foreign agents are roaming about the country freely and indulging in activities detrimental to the interests of Pakistan. This was a policy and administrative failure but ironically no one took notice of the grave situation and corrective measures. The credit should be given to Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan who is working hard to streamline things in his Ministry and subordinate organisations. He took tangible measures to make INGOs to behave and adapt to laws and rules, regulations of the country. The revise visa policy, online visa applications and creation of national database are steps in the right direction but these would not suffice to ensure that visas are not issued to under-cover agents and those entering Pakistan to fulfill their nefarious designs.

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