Britain is pursuing an unannounced policy of turning down visa applications of Pakistanis, becoming one of the top “no-go” countries for Pakistanis, a study and background interviews conducted by Online revealed.
The British High Commission Islamabad has turned down thousands of Pakistanis’ visa applications this year without citing any convincing reasons, in fact many of them on frivolous grounds, which surprisingly cannot be challenged at any forum.
Although, the British High Commission in Islamabad and two deputy high commissions in Karachi and Lahore are fully functional, Pakistanis’ visa applications are processed at Abu Dhabi High Commission, mainly by Indian staff.
The weird part of the story is that a large number of Pakistanis who have visited the UK twice or thrice in the recent past have also been denied visas without any cogent reasons.
To check the facts and get specific figures, Online sent a questionnaire to the British High Commission Islamabad asking four questions i.e. how many applications were received this year. How many of them were rejected and how many were granted? How many Pakistanis, who have traveled to the UK in the past, have been denied visas? In addition, how much money has the High Commission accumulated against these applications?
Currently, the British High Commission charges visa fees from Rs 14,000 to Rs 100,000 for different categories, and durations.
Mohammad Atif, who had applied for the UK visa from Lahore, said his three consecutive applications were rejected on different grounds. “Finally, when I cleared all the objections, the visa officer rejected my application because he thought I would stay there despite the fact I had lived in the UK for two and a half months before.”
“Each time, I deposited Rs14, 000 as visa fees and the high commission always welcomed it because they were getting money against the application. They should have refused to receive the subsequent applications if they had cogent reason to turn down my first application,” he said.
“It seems that that they racially discriminating against us,” he said
Faisal Hussein from Karachi had similar story to share. “I applied twice for the UK visa in the last three years to see my sister who is a British national. The first time, my application was rejected on the grounds that there was a difference in my earning and the transactions into my account.
“While the second time, when the visa officer could not raise this objection, he simply said that I would not come back because I am going with my wife,” he added.
“If applicants wishing to visit the UK with their families are suspicious or suspects then it should be mentioned in the application form,” he added.
“It seems like the British High Commission is acting like the East India Company, which just came here to loot and plunder. We are just financing the High Commission through visa fee. To me, it is totally immoral to take the fee and not issue a visa. If they feel that an applicant does not fit the criteria then they should refund his fee. It’s totally unjust and something should be done about it,” he went on to say.
An official at the British High Commission Islamabad, on the condition of anonymity, said the visa officers had orders from a “higher level” to reject the maximum number of visas possible, from Pakistan.
“Diplomatic missions in Pakistan and Afghanistan have been directed to discourage entry of Pakistanis and Afghans as much as possible, except for some exceptions,” the official said.
“This is unfortunate but the British government has in principal decided to discourage visitors from Pakistan and Afghanistan,” he said.
Bushra Naz, a public affairs officer at the British High Commission Islamabad, told Online that she had forwarded the questions to the Abu Dhabi High Commission. “That’s all I can do for you. It is better to contact them,” she said.
However, despite repeated reminders, the Abu Dhabi High Commission officials neither responded to questions nor did they discuss the issue over the phone, Online said.