Cabinet approves new visa regime for Afghan citizens

Cabinet approves new visa regime for Afghan citizens

ISLAMABAD, Jun 28 (APP): Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb on Tuesday said the federal cabinet had approved a new visa regime for the Afghan citizens including traders and those who sought to visit the country on medical grounds.

The visa policy for Afghans was reviewed by the Interior Ministry (Afghan Inter-ministerial cell) during an apex committee meeting which also included representatives of the Foreign Office, NADRA and Board of Investment, Marriyum informed while addressing a news conference, following the federal cabinet meeting chaired by the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Flanked by the Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Kashmir Affairs Qaamr Zaman Kaira, she said under the reviewed policy, the Pakistan missions abroad would process the visa applications of Afghans on the basis of existing passport and nationality instead of their country of origin.

In order to further promote bilateral trade with Afghanistan, she said the cabinet had okayed the inclusion of a sub-category in the work visa category for drivers, transporters and helpers.

The approval for introducing the sub-category in the online visa system was also given during the meeting.

The information minister further apprised that a multi-entry visa for six months would be issued within 48 hours, while the interior ministry had been authorized to extend the period to one year.

She said the documents required for obtaining the visa would include the applicant’s picture, passport, and transport company registration and employment letters, while the entry visa page would need to be submitted for the visa extension.

Marriyum said the Afghans who sought visas in driver, transporter and helper categories were exempted from obtaining the BOI’s letter of recommendation and registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).

The said initiative, according to the minister was aimed at ensuring the ease of doing business which would eventually boost the trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan, she added.

She said the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) had been directed to bring changes in the online system after approval of the policy.

A committee had been set up to ensure the continuity of ease of doing business for traders, she added.

The minister said the cabinet approved relaxing the visa policy for those coming from Afghanistan on medical grounds.

Meanwhile, the cabinet had also ratified decisions taken by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) during its meeting held on June 22.

The technical supplementary grants approved by the ECC included Rs 125,819,029 for various requirements of 6 Aviation Squadron, Cabinet Division (Customs Duties and Payment of Clearing Agent), Rs 40 Million for the media publicity campaign by the NCOC,

Rs 1,224.41 million for payment admissible to the families of deceased / shaheed families under Prime Minister’s Assistance Package, Rs. 39.363 million for purchase of surveillance cameras with accessories for maintaining law & order situation during upcoming protest / sit-in by a political party and others.

Marriyum said the cabinet had strongly condemned the attack on the polio team in Tank which claimed the lives of two police constables and one health worker.

She said the interior minister had been directed to present a report on the incident in the next meeting of the cabinet.

Replying to media persons questions, she said that an integrated management system was set up at the borders during the PML-N tenure from 2013 to 2018.

Besides, she said an integrated border management system was also set up at airports and borders in 2015.

She said earlier, whenever visa policy was relaxed for Afghans, NADRA was not included and this was the first time that NADRA would be monitoring the entire system.

The minister clarified that the effort were made keeping in view the ease of doing business, and a complete mechanism was prepared for its effective use.

To another question, she said that the issue of pay scales and regularization of APP employees was an old issue. “This is not a problem of only APP but for all corporations which will be decided in line with the government’s policy,,” she added.

She said that APP management had approved the DPC (Departmental Promotion Committee) of employees, which would be implemented immediately.

The minister said the quota system of plots in the APP would also be decided according to the policy.

She said the APP employees’ issues pertaining to the disparity allowances were being resolved.

Marriyum also apprised that the Information Secretary Shahera Shahid had gone to the ministry of finance for that matter and as soon as the notification gets issued, she would go to the protesting employees and announce it there.

As regards to the load shedding issue, she said the government was taking steps to provide uninterrupted supply of the electricity.

The work on ongoing power projects, abandoned by the previous regime, had been accelerated.

She said the work on the incomplete projects was started by the PML-N’s previous government but stopped during the “inefficient” regime of PTI.

Marriyum said the cases against Ishaq Dar were fake and part of the political vendetta of the PTI regime, also adding that the former finance minister had the every right to return back to the country.

She said the former PTI regime fell to deploy vindictive measures politically victimizing its opponents including Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Saad Rafiq, Asif Ali Zardari, and others.

She said that Ishaq Dar had rendered great services to Pakistan and nobody could deny his positive contribution for the development of the country.