International

Over 50, 000 visas were issued to Americans from 2008 to 2011

The Embassy of Pakistan in Washington had issued atleast 52,094 visas of different categories from 2008 to 2011, out of which 13,159 visas were under the category of diplomats/officials, ARY News reported on Saturday.

It is pertinent to note here that between 2009-2011, 2,202 visas were issued after the receipt of approval from the office of Defense Advisor, foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar had informed senate on February 9, 2012.

As Senator SM Zafar asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs to state the number of visas issued to American citizens by the Pakistan Embassy / Missions on the recommendations of Security Agencies, President’s and Prime Minister’s Secretariats separately during the PPP regime.

Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar answered that the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington has issued 52,094 visas of different categories from 2008 to 2011. Out of which 13,159 visas were under the category of Diplomats/officials. The Embassy of Pakistan in Washington issued 2,202 visas to US officials/diplomats after the receipt of approval from the office of Defense Advisor between 2009-2011.

Just Yesterday,  Pakistan People’s Party denied media reports claiming that the former US ambassador Husain Haqqani was authorized to issue visas to special US forces to visit Pakistan.

WHAT HAQQANI WROTE 

“The relationships I forged with members of Obama’s campaign team also led to closer cooperation between Pakistan and the United States in fighting terrorism over the 31/2 years I served as ambassador.

These connections eventually enabled the United States to discover and eliminate bin Laden without depending on Pakistan’s intelligence service or military, which were suspected of sympathy toward Islamist militants.

Friends I made from the Obama campaign were able to ask, three years later, as National Security Council officials, for help in stationing US Special Operations and intelligence personnel on the ground in Pakistan. I brought the request directly to Pakistan’s civilian leaders, who approved. Although the United States kept us officially out of the loop about the operation, these locally stationed Americans proved invaluable when Obama decided to send in Navy SEAL Team 6 without notifying Pakistan,” Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to US had written in an article in Washington Post on March 10.

A 2010 letter from former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s office had raised further questions as the letter empowered the ambassador to issue visas.

“The Ambassador in Washington is empowered to issue visas valid up to one year without the Embassy having to refer each such aforementioned visa application to the concerned authorities in Pakistan,” stated the letter.

Addressing  a press conference in Multan on Friday, former PM Gilani, however, said that the the letter leaked has a set of conditions that can be found in the first part, which include the point that people should be given visas only if they have the State Department’s recommendation and the reason for their visit is very clear.

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