ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani delegation has missed the 10th Asian Science Camp taking place in the Indian city of Bengaluru because the government has failed to get visas for the participants in time.
According to official sources, five students from various universities of the country were selected by the government after a written test and expert panel interviews. Nobel Laureates and world-distinguished scientists including Dr J Georg Bednorz, Dr Takaaki Kajita, Prof Raghavendra Gadagkar and Dr CNR Rao will speak on the occasion, according to the official website of the Asian Science Camp that started from August 21 and would continue for seven days.
The Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF) that functions under the Ministry of Science and Technology was supposed to initiate the process to get visas for the selected students after fulfilling all requirements keeping in view the starting date of the camp.
PSF spokesperson Rehana Batool, when contacted, claimed that they received the NOC from the Ministry of Interior on August 22 to start the visa process to the foundation’s request that was sent to the ministry on August 12.
“PSF had fulfilled the entire requirement for starting the visa process well on time. There has been no delay caused by the PSF. And from tomorrow onwards they will start the visa process,” she said.
The spokesperson added that the PSF was aware of the fact that it is not possible for Pakistani students to get Indian visas. “It is just because of stringent visa requirements for Pakistani students who want to travel to India. These requirements are only for Pakistani students — and not for any other country,” she said.
Batool said one of the visa requirements is to send scanned copy of the passport and the CNIC of the head of the organisation hosting the event, which is obviously impossible for the PSF to get.
“I have asked for it from the host organisation several times, but they did not send it,” she said. Therefore, without this it is not possible for the PSF to get Indian visas for the student, she said.
Batool said that in 2010 the fourth session of the Asian Science Camp was held in Mumbai and Pakistani students got their visas issued on the second day of the event due to which they could not participate in it. When The Express Tribune contacted Interior Ministry spokesman Sarfaraz Husain, he said the Ministry of Interior had already issued the NOC for this purpose.
Meanwhile, disappointed students have uploaded a video message on social media, asking everyone who matter to help them get their voice heard and reach to the authorities concerned.
In a video message, one of the students, Haris Bin Ashraf, has been appealing to Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bombaywala, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar and officials of the Ministry of Science and Technology to help them so that they could attend the camp and represent Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2016.