ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudry Nisar Ali Khan on Monday ordered immediate suspension of issuance of visas on arrival (landing permits) to foreigners to avoid any ‘irregularities’ in the database.
Addressing a high-level meeting held at the Ministry of Interior, he asked the participants for strict implementation of rules and regulations in the ministry and its attached departments.
The interior minister also ordered the Ministry of Interior to revise and update visa rules.
He said introduction of online visa regime to bring in transparency, minimise discretion and expedite the entire process should be ensured.
Indifference to this responsibility in addressing the problems of the people will invite serious notice and action, he added.
Noting that a lot of good work has been done in the issuance of visas and areas of immigration, he said that a lot more still needs to be done to streamline the system and remove various lacunas in it.
With the launching of the online visa application and online visa regime, the interior minister said that any anomaly in issuance of visas would be effectively eliminated.
He said central visa database is essential as it would enable Pakistani state institutions to keep a tab on all those travelling to Pakistan on any visa category.
To ensure strict surveillance of Pakistan’s land, sea and air route entry and exit points on borders, Nisar ordered speedy completion of concept paper for modern Immigration and Border Control Department (IBCD).
The minister observed that as a first step, a separate body of IBCD should be set up under the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
He said modern immigration department would strengthen border control management of the country which is currently managed by the FIA.
The FIA officials also gave a detailed briefing to the interior minister about the recoveries in various cases, including human trafficking and the recoveries made from various petroleum marketing companies in lieu of petroleum levy.
It was informed that FIA recovered Rs2.513 billion in various cases in 2016. An amount of Rs2.13 billion had also been recovered and deposited in the national treasury from the inquiry into recovery of petroleum levy.
It is pertinent to mention that recoveries by FIA in 2010 were Rs528 million, Rs690 million in 2011 and Rs110 million in 2012. The recoveries by FIA during the present government stand at Rs2.23 billion in 2013, Rs2.27 billion in 2014, and Rs6.39 billion in 2015.
As a result of a proactive approach under the directions of the interior minister, vast improvement has been witnessed in the overall performance of FIA.
For the first time in the history of Pakistan, foreign airlines were fined for violation of visa policy and were asked to take back the passengers without visa to the port of their embarkation at their own cost.
It was informed that a fine to the tune of Rs94 million was imposed on various foreign airlines for bringing in passengers without valid Pakistani visas and such airlines were directed to take back hundreds of such passengers.
On the issue blasphemous content on social media, the interior minister reiterated that blasphemous and terrorism-related content on social media were intolerable for the state of Pakistan.
He directed that legal assistance of the respective countries should also be solicited against those who are promoting or funding such an ill-activity from abroad.
The interior minister also directed FIA to continue working with Pakistan Telecommunication Authority for removing all those social media pages which could cause religious unrest in the society or glorify terrorism.
The Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration gave a detailed briefing on various steps taken for enhanced security of the capital including that of shrines and various entry and exit points of the capital city.
The minister directed ICT administration to ensure establishment of two free lanes for smooth entry and exit of commuters travelling between the twin cities. Free lanes would help the citizens using radio-frequency identification technology to enter the capital without any hassle.
The meeting was attended by interior secretary, NADRA chairman, advocate general, ICT chief commissioner, Islamabad acting IG and senior officers of FIA and Ministry of Interior.