Delay in security nod will not stall visas for Pakistanis: India
Karachi/New Delhi—Amid rumours that air traffic between India and Pakistan has come to a halt, Pakistan International Airlines clarified on Saturday that its Lahore-New Delhi flights are operating normally.
However, due to slim load during last three to four weeks the national flag carrier’s Karachi-New Delhi and Karachi-Mumbai flights have been cancelled, said PIA’s spokesperson Danyal Gilani.
The statement comes following ‘unauthentic’ media reports that PIA flights en route New Delhi were cancelled by the national carrier after escalating tensions between the two countries.
The spokesperson also said that those affected by the mentioned cancellation of the flights were accommodated on PIA’s subsequent flights or re-routed to Pakistan through other airlines.
“Passengers facing any difficulty in getting reservations are advised to contact PIA offices in New Delhi and Mumbai,” the communique read.
The Indian government has given the Ministry of External Affairs permission to grant a visa to an applicant if it doesn’t hear from the security agencies in 60 days, a senior Home Ministry official said. The move comes after the Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan Gautam Bambawale met Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi in May and pointed out the huge backlog of visas for Pakistani citizens for want of security clearance.
The government also plans to introduce an online application system leading to faster processing. Another official said the government was not planning to revoke visas of Pakistani artistes and actors. “There is no such move… We don’t go for knee-jerk reactions,” he said.
The changes to the visa proposal have been under consideration since May. An official said the decision had been taken before the September 18 Uri attack, in which 19 personnel were killed.
“For any visa applicant from Pakistan, we seek a report from the security agencies. Earlier the deadline was 40 days. We have revised it to 60 days now and have told MEA that if they don’t hear from the security agencies on the status of an applicant, they should grant the visa on 61st day,” the Home Ministry official said.—Agencies