— File photo
ISLAMABAD: The Sri Lankan government on Friday cancelled the on-arrival visa facility for Pakistanis, DawnNews reported.
Pakistani citizens intending to travel to Sri Lanka have been advised by the government to apply for a visa before taking a flight.
The decision, which was taken in view of the rising number of political asylum cases in Sri Lanka, was officially communicated to Pakistan’s Foreign ministry.
Sri Lankan daily Ceylon Today reported last week that nearly 1,500 Pakistanis, many of whom are registered with the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, have been picked up by the Sri Lankan Department of Immigration and Emigration and the Criminal Investigation Department. According to the newspaper, these people were to be deported because of their alleged involvement in ‘anti-state activities’ in India and Pakistan.
The Foreign Office distanced itself from the reported arrests of registered Pakistani refugees and asylum seekers in Sri Lanka, but aid workers from the island nation have confirmed that Pakistani refugees are being rounded up by the authorities.
Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam was unsympathetic to the plight of the detained refugees in Sri Lanka, saying: “These people [asylum seekers] obtained asylum in Sri Lanka by badmouthing Pakistan. If they are in trouble, I have no idea.”
Earlier, Pakistani nationals were granted on-arrival visas in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka will soon communicate guidelines to Pakistan's High Commission which will state detailed travel requirements.