NEW DELHI: After the Pathankot attack, India has started stringently scrutinising potential Pakistani travellers to the country and in the last five months, more visas have been denied than have been actually issued.
Concerned over the drastic reduction in approval of visas, India’s High Commissioner to Pakistan Gautam Bambawale has asked the Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi to look into the issue.
In his letter, Bambawale said that between January 1, 2016 to May 31, 2016, only 17,490 applicants were issued a visa while 17,581 applications were rejected.
The High Commissioner cited data from 2014 and 2015 to point out that the number of approvals has drastically reduced in 2016. Nearly 39,000 visas were issued between January 1, 2014 to May 31,2014 while only 8,910 applications were denied. Similarly, in 2015 during the same period, Indian visa was issued to 31,974 Pakistani nationals and only 9,335 applications were rejected.
Bambawale said he had flagged the issue during a recent meeting with the Home Secretary at North Block. “You will see from the details that in 2014 and 2015, the proportion of visas rejected was very low. In 2016, it has risen to 50 per cent,” Bambawale’s letter said adding that many Pakistani nationals have also pointed the reduction in visas. Bambawale said he would be grateful if the reasons for “the drastic increase in rejected visas can be ascertained and conveyed to him.”
After the Pathankot attack in early January, India had made it clear that Pakistan needs to act against terrorists responsible for the attack before constructive dialogue addressing other issues could take place. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar had clearly said in April that Pakistan cannot be in denial about terrorism’s impact on the bilateral relationship and had added that Pak-based groups targeting India must not be allowed to operate with impunity.