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Haqqani dispels claim of US influx through unauthorised visas

11 February, 2011

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WASHINGTON: The Pakistan’s embassy in Washington issued visas to all American diplomats, officials, and military or security personnel with due authorisation, said Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Hussain Haqqani.

He said the number of visas issued to Americans in each of the last four years had been roughly the same, and in fact, last year fewer visas were issued. Ambassador Haqqani rejected media reports that cast aspersions on him in connection with issuance of Pakistani visas to Americans in the last few years. He explained that the number of visas issued to the US citizens had been relatively higher in recent years due to greater frequency of visits and interaction between the two countries.

“The embassy has not issued any visa without proper authorisation,” he stated, rebutting media accounts. The critics, he added, have not been able to bring to light even a single instance in which a visa was issued without following authorisation.

Replying to a question about detained US citizen Raymond Davis, Haqqani said the embassy had issued a three-month official visa to Davis in September 2009 in accordance with the US State Department’s communication.

He did not respond to other queries about Davis, saying the matter is sub judice. Davis was arrested after he fatally shot two Pakistanis, claiming self-defence. In an answer to a question, the Pakistani envoy said that in the case of official and diplomatic visas, the applications were forwarded to the embassy by the US State Department and it was up to the State Department to designate the officials of the department as well as the private sector.

Haqqani said the number of visas issued to Americans in recent years had been relatively high due to the fact that the US officials were posted for a shorter period of time. The figures provided by the ambassador to journalists showed that the number of Pakistani visas issued to the US diplomats and officials remained almost the same in the years 2007-2010.

Besides, he said, the Pakistan-US strategic dialogue and meetings of joint groups took place more frequently in Islamabad. He said the high-level visits by US officials, including Vice President Joseph Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, had also larger delegations accompanying them. In addition to this, the number of American officials in respect to US aid expansion had also increased, he added.


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