Haqqani was delegated special powers to issue visas: Sartaj

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ISLAMABAD, March 21 (APP): Advisor to the Prime Minster on Foreign
Affairs Sartaj Aziz Tuesday said former ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani was granted special permission to issue visas to Americans.
Winding up discussion on an adjournment motion moved by Abdul Qayyum, Sartaj Aziz said visas are issued by the embassy in line with the government’s instructions. However, in case of foreign personnel coming to Pakistan on an assignment, visas were issued with the clearance of Interior Ministry, the departments concerned and the agencies.
He stated that there was a change in policy in 2010 after a letter was sent by the Interior Ministry to Washington on July 16, 2010 granting powers to the ambassador to issue visas to specific persons without informing the authorities concerned in Pakistan.
Under this letter, the ambassador in Washington was empowered to issue entry visas for restricted period to US officials on recommendation of the US authorities, he added.
“The prime minister is pleased to direct that the ambassador is
empowered with immediate effect to issue visas valid up to one year
without embassy having been referred to such aforementioned visa applications to the authorities concerned in Pakistan,” he read out
the contents of the letter sent to the embassy in Washington.
He said the letter definitely had an impact as the number of visas issued between July-December 2010 had almost doubled than those issued in other days.
Giving details, he said 1633 visas were issued in January-June 2008, 1892 in July-December 2008, 1586 in in January-June 2009, and 1656 in July-December 2009.
This number of visas issued during January-June 2010 was 1659, which rose to 2487 in during July-December 2010 after the issuance of said letter showing an increase of 50 per cent, the Advisor said.
He said there was need for a detailed inquiry as to who were the persons issued visas during that period and was any specific assistance was provided by Haqqani to kill Osama Bil Laden in the Abbottabad operation.
He, however, said, there should be no politicking on the issue as
it pertained to national security. Moreover, there were a number of contradictions and confusions in Haqqani’s article, which were being investigated.
Sartaj Aziz also agreed with the proposal of members to constitute a committee and said he had no objection on such a committee.
On this Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani said if such a committee was to be constituted it should also investigate about the ‘Spider Group’ of former President Pervez Musharraf as to who were those people.
He said during Musharraf’s tenure those Americans were specially facilitated to come and go through the cargo gate of Islamabad International Airport without their scrutiny by immigration and customs authorities. “We shall also have to see as to how many equipment were brought to Pakistan through this gate.”