The United States of America has imposed sanctions on Pakistan after Islamabad refused to take back its deportees and visa over-stayers from America. The US has now warned Pakistan that if quick actions are not taken up by Islamabad, the matter would lead to a complete visa denial. It means that the US government would not issue any further visas to Pakistani citizens and it may even start denying visas to senior officials.
The state department on Friday said that consular operation in Pakistan is still “unchanged” as of now. They further added that there is a mention of such sanctions in the Federal Register and the US government can issue it against Pakistan. It mentioned that the notification dated 22 April will help the US withhold the visas of Pakistani citizens.
This will lead to Pakistan joining the 10 nations which are on the list of such sanctions issued by the US. The sanction issued implements the rule that those countries which deny taking their deportees and over-staying citizens will further not be provided by any US visas. This establishes the rule that even if the new applicants seek visas, they will be rejected and that it might even include high officials.
Pakistan and Ghana are two new additions this year. 8 countries had already been issued the sanctions by the US under Trump administration. Under Section 243 (d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Secretary of State is required to discontinue granting immigration or non-immigrant visas to a nation upon receiving notice from the Homeland Security Secretary that the country has denied or is unreasonably delaying accepting a citizen, subject, national or resident of that country. A State Department Spokesperson said, “This is a bilateral issue of ongoing discussion between the US and Pakistani governments and we are not going to get into the specifics at this time”
Former Pakistani Ambassador to the USA Hussain Haqqani said that this will make things difficult for Pakistan. Haqqani said, “This measure will create hardship for Pakistanis who want or need to travel to the US and could have been avoided if Pakistani authorities had not ignored American requests to respect their legal requirements for deportation.” He also said that it is not new that the US has refused to accept its citizen deported from the United States. Haqqani further added, “Pakistan’s refusal to accept every Pakistani citizen deported from the US is not new. It seems that the US is no longer willing to overlook a wide range of official Pakistani behaviour. Bonhomie has been replaced by sanctions and restrictions based on Islamabad’s policy decisions.”
The US has clarified that the visas rejected on the basis of this particular sanction are far less. After the law on non-migrants being modified, 318 visas applications have been affected. Notification issued by the USA read, “During this same time period, tens of millions of aliens have received non-immigrant visas including, collectively, millions of applicants from the 10 countries affected.” The notification referred to the time when the modification was brought in the year 1996.
The problems and bilateral relations between Pakistan and the United States are getting strained with every coming day. While the US has been a constant criticizer of Pakistan and its terrorism issue, sanctions on visas are not a good signal for Pakistan. Pakistan has been asked to take quick steps regarding many issues that have an international concern and the problem of Pakistani citizens overstaying in the USA is just an addition to the list.
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