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ISLAMABAD: Days after banning the issuance of landing permits, the interior ministry decided on Tuesday to proceed against all aliens coming to Pakistan without valid visas.

It was decided during a meeting presided over by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan that those entering the country without completing the immigration process would be proceeded against under the law of Pakistan, which could include arrest and prosecution.

Recently announcing the decision to suspend visas on arrival for foreigners, including dignitaries, the minister had disclosed that some 34,000 visas had been issued since 2007. Before that the minister had expressed his displeasure over the arrival of an advance team of a dignitary from the United Arab Emirates, comprising Indian nationals, at a small airport in Sindh without visas, bypassing immigration processes.

Taking note of visa irregularities and breach of security protocols by the advance teams and accompanying staff of various hunting parties, especially from the Middle East, the minister ordered the interior ministry, Federal Investigation Agency and Civil Aviation Authority to put in place an effective system for streamlining and checking any violation of law.

He ordered his ministry to identify all airports and landing strips where delegations arrived for hunting, devise standard operating procedures for immigration and customs clearance at the places lacking these facilities and also to evolve a robust mechanism of information sharing among the immigration department, interior ministry and the aviation division. He said the process should be completed within a week.

He said that the FIA, CAA and the ministry should ensure that no plane was allowed to land in the country without prior clearance of the interior ministry.

The minister asked the aviation division and the FIA to also ensure that landing permission be only granted after ascertaining the number of people onboard, their nationality and the nature of their visas.

He reiterated his call that nobody should be allowed to enter Pakistan without completing the immigration procedures.

The minister also reviewed progress on his earlier directives regarding traffic management in Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2017