The Pakistan Embassy in Kabul has withdrawn its earlier decision of limiting the number of visas issued to Afghan nationals after President Ashraf Ghani’s administration assured action against the gang which was ‘intimidating and extorting money from the visa applicants’.
The decision was reversed after Afghanistan’s Foreign Affairs Minister Idrees Zaman assured Pakistan’s Ambassador in Kabul Zahid Nasrullah Khan, in a meeting, that “the gang operating outside the embassy will be immediately busted, full inquiry will be conducted and necessary measures will be put in place to prevent such criminals from operating near and about the embassy premises”.
“Following the meeting and the assurances given by the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Embassy of Pakistan will resume full consular services from tomorrow,” the embassy said in a statement on Sunday.
It also reiterated that it did not change any fee for visit visa and all visa applicants will be served on first come first serve basis. In a statement issued earlier in the day, the embassy had said due to the Afghan government’s failure to act against the extortionists, visas would only be given to women, patients, the elderly, and businessmen.
An embassy spokesperson said the new policy would remain unchanged until the Afghan government takes action on the matter. He had alleged that the gang received support from the local police and were operating unchecked, adding that the gang intimidated people by means of force and its members were often armed with hockey sticks.
In January, following an uptick in terrorist violence, Pakistan abolished the ‘on-arrival’ visa facility for Afghan nationals. The Immigration Wing of the Federal Investigation Agency cited increased security risks from the western border as a reason for the move.
Furthermore, the government had also restricted the movement of Afghan nationals in Pakistan and stopped issuing of visas at airports and border crossing points.
Published in Express Tribine on 29th July 2019