Government to launch new online visa system, says Nisar

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ISLAMABAD – The Interior Minister of Pakistan Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said Tuesday that the government is going to launch a new online visa system soon. 

The minister said that the new system would make sure that nobody entered Pakistan without proper visa and security clearance, reported Samaa News.

Addressing a press conference here, he said anyone could enter Pakistan without adequate documentation under the new online system.  He stated in the past visas were issued without taking any responsibility which was a matter of grave concern.

The Minister recalled that as leader of the opposition in National Assembly, he repeatedly raised the issue on the 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 checkpoints in Islamabad, Lahore and other cities but they were later released, he added. Nisar 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.

Chaudhry Nisar said at that time 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 district administration issued deadline all the residents provided the required information.

The Minister said when the present government came to office, a notification by the PPP Prime Minister came to his knowledge, according to which an ambassador was allowed to issue visas without any clearance from security agencies.

“I canceled the notification in 2014 and put in place a system to stop issuance of visas to foreigners without any security clearance. I can say with confidence that malpractices in visa system have been stopped,” he said.

He informed that fines of Rs 90 million were imposed on the airlines for bringing in passengers from abroad without documentation, adding these riders were sent out of Pakistan on the next flight.

He said with an online system for issuance of visas, if a person even applies for a visa, his record will be available to the concerned ministry as well as security departments, he explained.

“With a push of the button, we will know who is coming to Pakistan,” he added.

The Minister said Immigration Department would be separated from Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and in principle, the Prime Minister has given approval for introduction of the new system.

Nisar said diplomats and others were now given visas only after security clearance. Diplomats were issued visas after proper checks.

Similarly, he said, visas were being given after security clearance so that no intelligence or security official could enter Pakistan in the guise of a diplomat, he mentioned.

Now permits fees were being charged on a reciprocal basis in line with the costs charged by other countries, he added.

He said action could not be taken about past acts as no record of persons who were given visas, was kept by Interior Ministry of the previous government.

The minister said he had instructed National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to prepare a database of those applying for visas.- APP

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