No block on visas for Pakistanis, says Dhaka high commission

“Bangladesh has not stopped visas to Pakistani nationals,” the Bangladesh high commission told Arab News. (Photo courtesy: social media)
Updated 23 May 2019

No block on visas for Pakistanis, says Dhaka high commission

  • Says shortage of staff at embassy’s visa section made issuing visas “extremely difficult” in the last week
  • Bangladesh Mission in Karachi continues to issue visas, high commission adds

ISLAMABAD: The Bangladesh high commission in Islamabad said on Wednesday Dhaka had not stopped issuing visas to Pakistanis, following media reports of a fresh diplomatic spat between the two countries over the pending visa extension application of a Bangladeshi diplomat.
Media reported this week that the Bangladesh High Commission in Islamabad had stopped issuing visas to Pakistanis in the last one week to protest the visa application of a Bangladeshi diplomat not getting clearance from the Pakistan government for the last four months.
According to The Daily Star newspaper, Muhammad Iqbal Hossain, Counsellor (Press) at the Bangladesh High Commission in Islamabad, had submitted a visa extension application to Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry in January, which was subsequently sent to the Pakistani Interior Ministry. The application has still not been cleared, the newspaper reported. 
“Bangladesh has not stopped visas to Pakistani nationals,” the Bangladesh high commission told Arab News in a written response to questions. “There has been no visa officer at Bangladesh Mission in Islamabad since November 2018. Counsellor (Press) was doing additional duty of visa officer on temporary basis.”
Due to a shortage of staff at the Islamabad office, the issuance of visas had become particularly difficult over the last one week, the high commission said. 
“Now under order transfer to Dhaka, Counsellor (Press) is leaving Islamabad soon and passing preparation time,” the embassy’s statement said. “Issuance of visa has become extremely difficult due to absence of any officer at the visa section of Islamabad Mission.”
“Bangladesh Mission in Karachi continues to issue visas,” the embassy added. 
Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen also told reporters on Tuesday Bangladesh had not halted visas for Pakistanis. 
“We have not stopped issuing visas to Pakistanis, but delays could happen in some cases which are common worldwide,” he said during a press conference. 
Momen said the High Commission in Islamabad was going through staff shortage issues, which were affecting visa processing, adding that Pakistani authorities were delaying issuing a visa for Bangladesh’s newly appointed visa councilor in Islamabad.
East Pakistan broke away to become independent Bangladesh after a war between India and Pakistan in 1971. About three million people were killed and ties between Dhaka and Islamabad have been strained since. 
Relations became particularly tense in 2013 after Dhaka executed two opposition leaders for war crimes committed during the 1971 war to break away from Pakistan. Islamabad maintains the trials were flawed.


Pakistan won’t be blacklisted, makes tremendous progress — Citibank

Updated 20 min 48 sec ago

Pakistan won’t be blacklisted, makes tremendous progress — Citibank

  • Blacklisting is not likely, Pakistan has made great strides, says Nadeem Lodhi
  • Greylisting of Pakistan is a geopolitical issue, according to Citibank

KARACHI: Citibank Pakistan has expressed its confidence that the country would not be further downgraded by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on the back of progress it has shown.
“Blacklisting (of Pakistan) is not probability now or any other time,” Nadeem Lodhi, CEO of Citibank Pakistan told journalists at Pakistan Media Roundtable held in Karachi on Monday. 
“Pakistan is making tremendous strides on the list provided by FATF and our regulator is very strong and they have made whatever they have to implement in the financial industry,” he added.
Citibank, which operates in 98 countries and acts as a correspondent bank in Pakistan offering services to corporate and public sector clients – making payments around $4 trillion per day to other banks – says its operations have not been impacted by the greylisting of the country.
“We as a correspondent bank operate on the same alert level (as before greylisting) and it is unchanged for us and business is not impacted or that the business of our client including financial institutions is not impacted,” said Moiz Hussain Ali, Citibank Pakistan country treasury and markets head, explaining that the greylisting of Pakistan is “more of a geopolitical issue.” 
“When Afghanistan is on the white list how can Pakistan be on the grey or black list?” Ali added.
In October, the Paris-based FATF expressed concerns with regard to “overall lack of progress” by Pakistan in addressing its terror financing risks, and gave Islamabad time until February 2020 to complete its full action plan or risk further downgrading.
“Should significant and sustainable progress not be made across the full range of its action plan by the next plenary, the FATF will take action, which could include the FATF calling on its members and urging all jurisdictions to advise their FIs (financial institutions) to give special attention to business relations and transactions with Pakistan,” the FATF warned.
Citibank officials say Pakistan may remain on the greylist till the end of the upcoming year.
“The list given to Pakistan is quite long and it is not that you can do it overnight,” Ali said.
He expressed satisfaction with the government’s current economic policies and called for their continuation.
According to the Citibank officials, if the current political regime, where the army and political leadership look united, continues for the next two years, things should improve.
They said that a number of multinationals are planning investment – estimated at $500 million – in various sectors of the economy, ranging from consumer goods to energy.