Saturday, October 24

Afghan officials praise Pakistan’s decision to introduce liberal visa regime

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Under the new policy, Afghan nationals will get long-term, multiple-entry visas in all categories. Afghanistan’s special envoy for Pakistan, Mohammad Umer Daudzai, calls it a positive development.
Senior officials in Afghanistan on Saturday applauded Pakistan’s decision to introduce a more liberal visa policy for Afghan nationals, describing it as a positive development that would strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries.
Pakistan’s special representative for Afghanistan, Mohammad Sadiq, announced in a Twitter post last night that Islamabad was now issuing long-term, multiple-entry visas to Afghan citizens in all categories.

1/3 The new visa regime for Afghan citizens is now enforced. Under this regime long term multiple visas are being issued to all categories of Afghan citizens including visitors, students, businessmen, investors and patients.

— Mohammad Sadiq (@AmbassadorSadiq) October 16, 2020

He also informed that Pakistan was giving more visas to Afghan nationals than “some 45 countries represented in Kabul.”

3/3 To clear the backlog almost 19,000 multiple entry visas were issued in last 5 working days. Pakistan alone is now issuing more visas to Afghan citizens than the total visas issued to them by some 45 countries represented in Kabul.

— Mohammad Sadiq (@AmbassadorSadiq) October 16, 2020

Reacting to the development, Afghanistan’s special envoy for Pakistan, Mohammad Umer Daudzai, welcomed the development.
“We’re grateful that the government and parliament of Pakistan approved critical improvements in the visa policy unilaterally,” he told Arab News in a voice note. “The president of Afghanistan has also instructed the relevant authorities to introduce a new visa policy for Pakistani nationals that will further facilitate movement of people belonging to the two brotherly nations.”
Afghan nationals, seeking Pakistani visas, have complained of various problems in the past. Many of them claim that the Pakistani diplomatic mission in their country sometimes mishandles applications or indulges in favoritism while granting travel permits.
“I congratulate Ambassador Mansoor A. Khan [who is based in Afghanistan] for streamlining the issuance of visas to Afghan citizens,” Sadiq said in another Twitter post, adding: “The charges of corruption and mishandling of applicants in recent years had tarnished the image of Pakistan and caused hardship to visa applicants.”
Asadullah Saadati, a senior Afghan politician and a close aide of Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of Afghan High Council for National Reconciliation, said that Islamabad’s new initiative would help encourage both countries to move forward and address any mistrust between them.
“Afghan nationals used to face problems while securing visas for Pakistan, so this move is a great favor,” he said. “Following Dr. Abdullah’s visit, bilateral ties are getting better, and I hope both countries will work in tandem to live as trusted neighbors.”
Gulmina Bilal, a development consultant, told Arab News that there was a major shift in Pakistan where the government was now looking at the Pak-Afghan relations from people’s perspective rather than using the old security prism that was previously employed by policymakers.
“I think they are using the citizen perspective and waiting to see how the initiative is reciprocated,” she said. “Of course, there is the other narrative as well and its proponents are likely to push back against the change. But I feel this is a positive step for now.”
Brig. (r) Saad Muhammad, a security analyst, told Arab News that relaxing the visa regime was a bold step, adding that Islamabad had always tried to improve its ties with Kabul since Afghanistan’s security was also vital for Pakistan’s security.
Asked how the development would impact the overall environment in Pakistan, he asserted: “Pakistan has never said there would not be security issues. But that is also the reason why Islamabad has gone out of its way to normalize relations with Afghanistan.”

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