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India rejected 53% Pak visa applications in 2016

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New Delhi: Thousands of Pakistanis wanting to cross the border to meet their families are finding it difficult to come to India as every second visa application was rejected this year.

Why India rejected over 17,000 visa applications from Pakistan.
With nearly 53 per cent applications rejected this year, there is a big jump in the proportion of visas being denied in the last two years – 24% in 2015 and 17% in 2014, as reported TOI.

In a recent communication to Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, Bambawale has raised concerns about the increasing proportion of visa applications being rejected.

“I would be grateful if the reasons for the drastic increase in rejected visas can be ascertained and conveyed. If there is no plausible reason for drastic visa reductions then please do help in ensuring that the proportion rejected visas is retained,” he wrote.

The number of visas declined was 9,335 out of 38,557 applications in 2015 and in 2014, 8,910 visas were denied out of 50,338 applications.

ALL BECAUSE OF PATHANKOT ATTACKS?

Officials say following the attack on the Pathankot Air Force base by Pakistani terrorists, the increased hostilities between the two countries has had an impact on the bilateral relations.
There have been several skirmishes on the border with Pakistani troops over the last two years.

There has been an increase in intelligence inputs indicating that Pakistan-based terrorists could enter the country, leading to heightened scrutiny, sources said.

Earlier this year in January, soon after the Pathankot attack, a group of nearly 75 pilgrims who wanted to visit a shrine near Agra were denied visa on procedural grounds.

Not only has the number of rejections spiralled, thousands of applications are pending for long citing security clearance.
Officials said expediting the lengthy visa procedure is on the cards but security concerns cannot be overlooked.

WHAT ABOUT THE VISA AGREEMENT?

In 2012, India and Pakistan signed a liberalised visa agreement that proposed a timebound approval to boost trade and people-to-people contact.

While the visa rejections are on the rise, the Narendra Modi government is working at amendments in existing laws to ensure that the process for getting Indian citizenship for persecuted Hindus in Pakistan is made hassle-free.

A Bill to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, is likely to be introduced during the Monsoon session of Parliament scheduled in July-August.

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