Bangladesh halts issuing visas to Pakistanis amid diplomatic row

Sun Online Desk

20th May, 2019 09:11:06 printer

Bangladesh halts issuing visas to Pakistanis amid diplomatic row

The Bangladesh High Commission in Islamabad has stopped issuing visas to Pakistanis amid a diplomatic row between the two countries, said an official on Monday.

Bangladesh mission in Islamabad took the decision in an apparent protest as Pakistan authorities had not been responding to a visa extension application submitted by Bangladesh diplomat Muhammad Iqbal Hossain for over four months.

Iqbal submitted the application to Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in January last which was sent to its Ministry of Interior later but there has been no positive response so far, the official added.

A diplomat in Islamabad said the post of visa officer remained vacant since November last and Iqbal was looking into the section in addition to his current charge.

“As a sign of protest, he (Iqbal) stopped issuing visas to Pakistanis for the last one week,” the diplomat told, adding that it is not the kind of closure through any official announcement.

Officials said Iqbal is now living in Islamabad with his daughter while his wife and son are in Dhaka.

Iqbal applied for visa extension on January 9 to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan which was cleared and sent to its Ministry of Interior two days later.

On the other hand, his wife and son applied for visas in Pakistan High Commission here but they were not granted visas yet.

“So far we know, the Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka called them to the mission to take visas but when they went there they told them to come later after keeping them waiting for over an hour,” another diplomatic source said, adding that it happened thrice to them.    

Iqbal’s visa expired on March 30 last and he has already sent the container (his belongings) to Bangladesh on April 27 amid assurance from the Pakistan side that his visa extension application will be approved. 

There have been series of meetings and exchange of letters but all efforts went in vain, said a diplomatic source.

The Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs reportedly proposed Saqlain Syedah as its new High Commissioner to Bangladesh in early March last year.

But, Bangladesh neither accepted nor rejected the nomination, diplomatic sources said.