PPP reacts to visa scandal surrounding Hussain Haqqani
ISLAMABAD: Breaking silence on a controversy surrounding Hussain Haqqani and a ‘leaked’ letter, Pakistan People’s Party today denied media reports claiming that the former US ambassador was authorized to issue visas to special US forces to visit Pakistan, ARY News reported.
Giving a ‘much-awaited’ statement on the burning issue, PPP spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said the letter written to Haqqani in 2010 by the then Interior Ministry had “nothing new or wrong” to be surprised about. “The ambassador had the right to issue visas under a prescribed procedure, but he wasn’t entitled to issue visas to special US forces.”
A new ‘leaked’ letter negates PPP claims
Couple of days ago, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said in the Senate that PPP had formally empowered Hussain Haqqani to directly issue visas to Americans entering the country during the time it was in power.
Aziz revealed that the PPP’s Ministry of Interior had written a letter to the ex-ambassador on July 16, 2010, authorising him to issue diplomatic visas to Americans.
Aziz noted that this marked a significant policy change, as the number of such visas issued to Americans registered an increase after the letter and reached 2,487 in six months. In the preceding six months, 1,659 diplomatic visas had been issued.
The adviser also informed that House that Haqqani did not state correctly the number of visas he had authorised when he spoke before the Abbottabad Commission.
Babar, however, states that the letter to Haqqani at that time only meant to expedite the visa issuance procedure that was done on the request of US State Department.
Pointing towards the US raid in Abbottabad which killed Osama Bin Laden, Babar asked how it was that Bin Laden lived in a cantonment for almost a decade directing global terrorism efforts.
“Targeting some individuals or a political government for political purposes will not advance national security interests,” he said.
“National security interests will be advanced only by a credible, non-partisan probe in visa policies and procedures across the board and across time,” he added.
He demanded that a thorough investigation be conducted into visa policy from 2001 till date.