An Indian diplomat has been living in Pakistan without a visa for six months, the Pakistani newspaper The Nation reported on Monday.
The diplomat was not named, and the paper quoted the Pakistani foreign office spokesperson as saying he was ignorant of the matter. But a spokesperson for the Indian high commission did confirm the presence of the diplomat – sans his visa – in Islamabad.
“Yes, the story is absolutely true but we don’t want his name to be published,” the spokesperson, Balbeer Singh, told Online in a written reply.
The diplomat in question works out of the Indian high commission and his visa reportedly expired six months ago.
The Pakistani papers seemed to blame both the Pakistani foreign office and the interior ministry for the slip-up, saying they were both responsible for letting an Indian diplomat live in the national capital minus a valid visa.
Balbeer Singh, The Nation reported, had asserted that the Indian high commission had been asking the Pakistani authorities in writing and “through other bilateral means” to issue the diplomat a visa.
The Pakistani newspapers said the prerogative to issue or not issue the diplomat a visa lay with the interior ministry. And that the foreign office was only expected to act like a “post office” -- in other words, to pass on the request for a visa.
But, they added, the foreign office could always expedite the process by asking the interior ministry to cut through the red tape involved.
The Nation reported that after the foreign office spokesperson had expressed his ignorance of the matter, he made the cautious statement that the Indian diplomat's case might be “under process”.
The Nation reported him as saying: “This is no news story. These are normal practices throughout the world. The process of renewal of visa may take several months. As far as the case is under process, we cannot say the Indian diplomat is living here without a visa,” he justified the situation on the basis of assumption.
Both Pakistan and India are signatories to an agreement under which diplomats from the two neighbouring countries are granted visas for the duration of their assignments.
The Indian diplomat in question had earlier, before he moved to Islamabad, been posted in the Middle East. And while was stationed to Islamabad for a three-year period, he was given only a one-year visa.