The United States has significantly reduced the visa duration for Pakistanis applying under certain categories. The changes will largely affect journalists and those engaged in missionary work.
As part of the new visa policy, Pakistani journalists will now be granted visas for only three months and for missionaries up to a year. Previously, journalists and missionaries were given a fiveyear visa. While visas for trade, tourism and students will remain for a period of five years and visas for government officials will be issued based on the nature of their work.
Also, the visa application fee for Pakistani citizens has been increased from $160 to $192.
The visa restrictions come in the wake of the Pulwama terror (India) attack which had claimed the lives of 40 CRPF men. Pakistanbased terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed had claimed responsibility for the attack.
United States has repeatedly urged Pakistan to stop providing safe haven to terror groups operating from their soil.
The US had also imposed travel restrictions on Pakistan diplomats, a move which was reciprocated by Pakistan.
An official notification announcing revision of the visa policy rules was issued by the US Consulate in Islamabad.
The policies have been revised as per rules of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington. Pakistan also issues visas for three months to journalists.
After the Pulwama terror attack, US President Donald Trump addressed media, Donald Trump went on to slam Pakistan in light of the misuse of funds by the neighbouring country. Trump said that the United States stopped that $1.3 billion Dollars per year funding to Pakistan earlier, citing the reason that it was not helping the Western country and was taking advantage of the former Presidents of USA.
“We stopped paying Pakistan the 1.3 billion dollars that we were paying them. We may set up some meetings with Pakistan. Pakistan was taking very strong advantage of the United States under other presidents and we were paying Pakistan 1.3 billion a year. I ended that payment to Pakistan because they were not helping us in a way that they should have,” Trump said.
The international terror financing watchdog FATF condemned the Pulwama terror attack that killed 40 CRPF jawans and decided to continue the ‘Grey’ listing of Pakistan for its failure to stop funding of terrorist groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamat-ud-Dawa.
In a statement, the Paris-headquartered Financial Action Task Force (FATF) said Pakistan should continue to work on implementing its action plan to address its strategic deficiencies, including by adequately demonstrating its proper understanding of the terror financing risks posed by the terrorist groups and conducting supervision on a risk-sensitive basis.
“The FATF notes with grave concern and condemns the violent terrorist attack that killed at least 40 Indian security forces in Pulwama in the State of Jammu and Kashmir,” it said after the weeklong FATF plenary held in Paris.
“Pakistan has revised its TF (terror financing) risk assessment. However, it does not demonstrate a proper understanding of the TF risks posed by Da’esh (ISIS), AL-Qaida, JuD (Jamat-ud-Dawa), FIF (Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation), LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba), JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammad), HQN (Haqqani Network) and persons affiliated with the Taliban,” the statement said.
Given the limited progress on action plan items due in January 2019, the FATF urged Pakistan to swiftly complete its action plan, particularly those with timelines of May 2019.
An Indian official, who who attended the FATF plenary, explained that placement in compliance document means putting the country in ‘Grey’ list and it will be reviewed again in June 2019.
In June 2018, Pakistan was placed in the ‘Grey’ list and given a 27point action plan by the FATF. This Plan was reviewed as the last Plenary in October 2018 and for the second time in this weeklong meeting.
The decision has been taken after several rounds of deliberations during the plenary where India submitted new information about Pakistanbased terrorist groups, including Jaish-e-Mohammad, responsible for the Pulwama attack.
The FATF continuing Pakistan with the ‘Gray’ listing means downgrading of the country by multilateral lenders like IMF, World Bank, ADB, EU and also a reduction in risk rating by Moody’s, S&P and Fitch.
Pakistan was nominated for a detailed review of its “serious deficiencies” in countering terror financing in February 2018. This nomination was supported by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and India.
At the end of this plenary, the FATF has observed that several deficiencies remain in Pakistan’s legal regime in dealing with terror financing.
Since June 2018, Pakistan has made a highlevel political commitment statement by its Minister of Finance to work with and address its strategic counterterrorist financingrelated deficiencies.
At the start of its deliberations, all members of the FATF observed a minute of silence for the 40 CRPF jawans who were killed in a suicide attack in Jammu and Kashmir. The President of FATF expressed sincere condolences to the people and the Government of India.
The FATF currently has 35 members and two regional organizations – European Commission and Gulf Cooperation Council.
Forty CRPF personnel were killed and five injured on February 14 in one of the deadliest terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir when a Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying a huge quantity of explosives into their bus in Pulwama district.