To effectively monitor the presence of foreigners in the country, the government has framed fresh guidelines for renting out houses to foreigners and diplomats.
Consequently, the interior ministry has forwarded a letter to the capital administration containing the new guidelines drafted by the country’s premier intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
The document – a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune – reveals that the guidelines are currently Islamabad-specific. But the interior ministry has recommended that concerned quarters may issue similar instructions for rest of the country.
Under the new directives, any foreign individual or firm will have to intimate the ministry of foreign affairs, ministry of interior and Capital Development Authority (CDA) of the intent behind hiring houses, the purpose and address of the particular rented estate, etc.
The civic body and Islamabad police will maintain records of all such properties rented out to foreigners in the federal capital. More importantly, both the departments will share details with the interior ministry as well as director general of the ISI.
As many as five copies of the contract deed will be kept by owner, occupant, ministry of interior, CDA and the police.
Under the new guidelines, three main documents will also be attached with the contract deed: copy of the passport including visa pages, letter of employment from the firm/non-governmental organisation/embassy, copy of national identity card of the sponsors or the real estate agent.
The particular house will only be occupied by the person against whom the contract deed has been made and change of occupancy will entail a new contract deed, according to the new directives.
Moreover, in case the rented accommodation is used as a guest house, record of short-stay guests will also be maintained as per the standard operating procedure applicable to guest houses.
In case of a prolonged stay that is beyond one month, it must be ensured that proper maintenance of record of foreigners including copy of passports, identity cards and place of their visit in Pakistan is kept. The guest houses will have to regularly intimate details of foreigners staying to the special branch and intelligence agencies.
Whenever a change of occupant takes place, a joint team of the CDA and police will inspect the house before the contract deed is signed.
The government has put in place some strict measures if there is any violation of newly-drafted guidelines. Violation will entail cancellation of visa as well as investigation before considering deportation.
The government has decided to provide a cushion of three months with a cut off date to all presently-occupied or hired houses to regularise the new rules. After the deadline, joint inspection by the civic body and special branch will be carried out to take action against defaulters.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2012.