By Qaiser Butt
More than 230 visas had been issued to American and Indian nationals by Pakistan’s consul general in Dubai in 2010 in violation of the government policy, official sources said on Tuesday. As many as 86 US and 150 Indian nationals had been issued visas during the months of March and April 2010, sources added.
According to official documents, visas had been issued on the instructions of Dubai-based PPP leader Awais Muzaffar Tappi, the half-brother of the then president, Asif Ali Zardari.
The ministry of foreign affairs took serious action against the consul general, Amjad Ali Sher Mohmand, and called him back without letting him complete his three-year tenure in Dubai. Sher Mohmand was posted in October 2009 for three years but was summoned back in September 2011.
The move, however, was not against the consul general for violating the government policy but was rather a punishment for disobeying Tappi who wanted him to issue another 100 visas to US nationals.
The consul general had flatly rejected the pressure by Tappi and maintained that he had already issued more than 250 visas to US and Indian nationals in violation of the government policy.
The refusal made Tappi approach the then foreign secretary, Salman Bashir, who immediately posted another diplomat in Dubai.
Salman Bashir had ordered an inquiry against Sher Mohmand over his ‘bold’ refusal that annoyed Tappi. Later, the consul general in an interview divulged the whole story. The foreign secretary agreed that the visas had been issued in violation of the government policy but still punished the consul general for his ‘impolite attitude’ towards Tappi.
Pakistani embassies were under strict instructions not to issue visas to nationals not belonging to the host country without an explicit clearance from the ministries of interior and defence. The ban was imposed by the ministry of interior through a ‘policy instructions’ document dated February 23, 2010. The policy was framed following reports that those who were refused Pakistani visas in Washington and New Delhi had been successful in obtaining them from the Pakistan missions in the UAE, the source added.
Documents also revealed that foreigners who had been issued ‘anti-papers’ in the UAE had been granted visas valid for one year while others had been given 90- day multiple entry visas.