ISLAMABAD: Minister for Interior and Narcotics Control, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Tuesday said the government was putting in place a system to ensure that nobody entered Pakistan without proper visa and security clearance.
Addressing a press conference here, he said nobody could enter Pakistan without proper documentation under the new online system.
He said in the past visas were issued without taking any responsibility which was a matter of grave concern.
The Minister recalled that as leader of the opposition in National Assembly, he repeatedly raised the issue on floor of the House and pointed out that many foreigners were entering Pakistan and getting visas without any security clearance.
Many persons were arrested on check points in Islamabad, Lahore and other cities but they were later released, he added.
Nisar said it was in his notice that at that time many people were allowed to enter Pakistan without visas.
The Interior Minister of the past government never responded to the issues raised by him, he reminded.
Chaudhry Nisar said at that time he stated local administration did not know who lived in about 300-400 houses in Islamabad as the tenants were reluctant to give their identity details. But when district administration issued deadline all the tenants provided required information.
The Minister said when the present government came to office, a notification by the PPP Prime Minister came to his knowledge, according to which an ambassador was allowed to issue visas without any clearance from security agencies.
“I cancelled the notification in 2014 and put in place a system to stop issuance of visas to foreigners without any security clearance. I can say with confidence that malpractices in visa system have been stopped,” he said.
He informed that fines of Rs 90 million were imposed on the airlines for bringing in passengers from abroad without documentation, adding these passengers were sent out of Pakistan on the next flight.
He said with online system for issuance of visas, if a person will even apply for visa, his record will be available to the concerned ministry as well as security departments, he explained.
“With a push of the button, we will know who is coming to Pakistan,” he added.
The Minister said Immigration Department would be separated from Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and in principle, the Prime Minister has given approval for introduction of the new system.
Nisar said diplomats and others were now given visas only after security clearance. Diplomats were being issued visas after proper checks.
Similarly, he said, visas were being given after security clearance so that no intelligence or security official could enter Pakistan in guise of a diplomat, he mentioned.
Now visas fees were being charged on reciprocal basis in line with the fees charged by other countries, he added.
He said action could not be taken about past acts as no record of persons who were given visas, was kept by Interior Ministry of the past government.
The minister said he had instructed National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to prepare a database of those applying for visas.
Nisar said in only one instance, he allowed a woman to return to Pakistan as she was taken to India by her Muslim husband and later abandoned.
The woman was suffering in jail for the last six years along with her child and did not have any documentation but she was allowed to enter Pakistan on compassionate grounds, he added.
The Minister said posting of blasphemous material on the social media was going on for a long time.
Nisar said he recently arranged a meeting of envoys from Islamic countries on issue of blasphemy on social media.
There was complete consensus among the diplomats that united voice should be raised on issue of blasphemy. The diplomats appreciated the steps taken by the government.
Nisar informed that Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Tariq Fatimi and Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs have written a letter to Arab League and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) respectively which would take up the matter in their next meetings.
He told that Facebook responded positively to the government on issue of blasphemy.
Facebook management wrote to the government of Pakistan that it took the issue seriously and it would send its delegation soon, he said and added in last few months 62 websites carrying blasphemous material had been blocked. Of the total, 45 websites had been blocked during the last few days.
The minister said Pakistani envoys would raise the issue with the US government and Justice Department and United Nations.
Such blasphemous content could not be termed as freedom of expression, he added.
To a question about incident of violence committed by lawyers against policeman on the premises of court in Islamabad, he said a committee formed by him met lawyers, Registrar of the Islamabad High Court and members of the bar and the issue would be resolved amicably.
Positive response came from all sides and it was assured that action would be taken against those who were responsible for violence against police official, he told.
To a question, Chaudhry Nisar said steps would be taken for welfare of the labourers of Pakistan Ordnance Factories.
He said he would welcome PPP chairperson Asif Ali Zardari if he comes to address a public meeting in his native village Chakri.
“I have nothing personal against Asif Zardari but have serious difference of opinion with him.”
Nisar said former Sindh Provincial Minister Sharjeel Memon remained missing for two years and did not bother to respond to court notices. He is involved in Rs 5 billion corruption and should face court of law.
Replying to another question regarding Constitution Avenue matter, the minister said a committee, to be formed after approval of Prime Minister and Cabinet, would approach affectees and ascertain their credibility. Each and every penny of the genuine affectee would be returned, he added. —APP