US denies visit visa to 3 senior Pakistani officials: Qureshi

The US has denied visit visas to three senior Pakistani officials for not taking back Pakistani immigrants who are illegally residing in America, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Tuesday.

He said this while briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Pakistani media reported.

The ban was imposed for not taking back Pakistani immigrants who are illegally residing in US, The Nation quoted minister as saying.

The three Pakistani officials were identified by Dawn newspaper as the Joint Secretary, Additional Secretary, Interior and Director General, Passport.

Qureshi said that US authorities want to “deport more than 70 Pakistanis over which we have asked them to complete legal requirements before taking this step.”

 He confirmed that 70 Pakistani nationals would be deported from the US and they would be brought back on a special chartered plane on Wednesday.

The US has not imposed ban on other Pakistanis as the Consular Section of the American embassy in Pakistan was still operating, he said. 

“The foreign ministry will only issue that many visas that the US does,” Qureshi said.

“If the US issues visas for five years, then Pakistan will issue it for five years as well,” the foreign minister was quoted as saying by Geo News.

Washington’s decision to deport over 70 Pakistani nationals and deny visit visas to three senior officials came after a warning issued late last month by the US that the visa sanction policy might also withhold visas of Pakistani senior officials and not just of ordinary travellers, The News reported from Washington.

The Trump administration after coming to power has made it clear that it will strictly enforce such provisions under the law.

Pakistan was the latest to join the list of 10 countries that are facing such sanctions under a law according to which countries refusing to take back deportees and visa over-stayers could be denied American visas.

Other countries against whom the US has introduced visa restrictions are Ghana, Guyana, the Gambia, Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Myanmar and Laos. A senior Pakistani official at the Pakistani embassy in Washington said that the discussions to resolve the visa issue was ongoing, but claimed that the reports of sanctions on the country were misleading.