Monday, December 30, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Visa curbs on Pak nationals
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 29
Alarmed by the involvement of a large number of Pakistani nationals in various terrorists and anti-national activities in India, the Central Government is contemplating to impose stringent visa regime for Pakistan nationals and undertake a drive to round up those who have overstayed in the country.

Even as New Delhi, in the aftermath of attack on Parliament on December 13 last year, had made 100 per cent pre-verification of Pakistan nationals seeking visa compulsory, the Centre is considering a proposal to get undertakings from local sponsors of Pakistani visitors in order to hold them responsible for the whereabouts of their guests till the time they left the country.

This was revealed at a press conference here today by Minister of State for Home Vidyasagar Rao.

Expressing concern over increasing cases of Pakistani nationals overstaying or going underground in India, he said all state governments had been empowered by the Centre to identify, nab and deport those staying in the country beyond the time permitted in their visas or had gone missing.

“The state governments have also been asked to launch special drives to nab the Pakistani nationals staying here illegally. State police forces and the foreigners registration offices have been empowered to nab and deport them,” he said.

However, he said the government was also contemplating granting citizenship on humanitarian grounds to aged persons who had their kin here or those women who had married Indian nationals on a case to case basis.

Mr Rao said of a total of 11,208 cases of Pakistanis who had entered India legally but were overstaying, as many as 2,324 among them had gone missing without trace.

“You need only one Osama bin Laden to cause a disaster,” he said adding that it was found that 90 per cent of Pakistanis seeking Indian visas were furnishing false addresses.

As per the latest statistics available with the Home Ministry, 151 Pakistani nationals are either overstaying or “untraceable” in Punjab alone, 72 in Jammu and Kashmir 391 in Haryana, 988 in Uttar Pradesh, 946 in Madhya Pradesh and 1707 in Maharashtra.

While the practice of “100 per cent pre-verification” of Pakistanis seeking visas would continue, the Ministry was also going to install computer software at points of entry and exit in different parts of the country so that information about foreigners were available to authorities concerned all over the country, he said.

Following the Simla Agreement, India and Pakistan had signed an accord on the issuance of passports which entitled nationals of both countries to visit a maximum of three places. The accord also restricted the issue of visas only for meeting relatives or for diplomatic purposes.

However, New Delhi had unilaterally increased the number of places which could be visited by the Pakistanis to 12 and had also started issuing tourist visas, Mr Rao said.

The proposal now was to restrict the maximum number of places to three as before, he said, adding that stoppage of granting extension on tourist visas was also being considered.


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