The interior ministry has canceled the “visa on arrival” policy of the government. The main reason behind the cancellation of visa on arrival in Pakistan is because of the landing permits.
No Visa on Arrival and International Relations
One of the interior ministry officers said that declining visa on arrival would not affect Pakistan’s bilateral visa-waiver agreements with other countries.
Visa on Arrival
Pakistan usually gives the visa on arrival to those persons who come with high-level foreign dignitaries. Pakistan has been issuing 72-hour landing permits for these individuals.
However, the government of Pakistan has changed its policy. From now onwards, the persons coming with high-level foreign dignitaries need to have valid visas.
Chaudhry Nisar said that such relaxation given to these individuals might result in irregularities. The interior minister has asked the ministry to revise visa rules and also introduce online visa regimes to ensure greater transparency.
Background to change in No Visa on Arrival
The interior ministry is already in the process of creating a database of visas issued to foreigners. The government is taking these steps after a former Pakistani ambassador to the US said he had issued visas to US officials to facilitate tracking and killing of Osama Bin Laden.
The interior minister has also asked the ministry, and it’s allied departments for strictly implementing the regulations. The Ministry of Interior, Senior Officers of Federal Investigation Agency, IG Islamabad Police, Chief Commissioner Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), and Chairman NADRA attended the meeting.
Chaudhry Nisar was not satisfied with the current visa documentation processes and said that a lot had to be done. He reiterated the need for the country to have a central visa database to empower the state institutes to keep undesired persons from traveling to Pakistan. He also directed swift completion of a concept paper for upgrading the Immigration and Border Control Department on the contemporary basis to secure Pakistan’s land, air, and sea at entry and exit points.
The Minister also advocated forming of Immigration and Border Management under FIA.
FIA’s Recoveries in Different Cases
The FIA officials also gave detailed briefing about the agency’s recoveries in various cases.
- The agency recovered PKR 2.513 billion working on different cases in the year 2016.
- FIA deposited an amount of PKR 2.13 billion in national treasury as a result of an investigation into petroleum levy.
- FIA recovered around PKR 528 million in 2010, PKR 690 million in 2011, and PKR 110 million in 2012 in different cases.
- FIA also said that it fined the foreign airlines PKR 94 million for bringing in passengers without valid Pakistani visas. These airlines were asked to take back such hundreds of passengers.
During the meeting, the minister also said that blasphemous or terrorism-related content was not tolerable on social media. He also suggested taking legal action against those countries from where such activities were taking place.
He also directed FIA to work in close collaboration with PTA to remove blasphemous content from social media as it could potentially cause unrest in the society or glorify terrorism. Chaudhry Nisar also asked ICT Administration to establish two free lanes for commuters commuting between twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.