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No Change to Visa Policy for India-held Kashmiris: Pakistan

by Newsweek Pakistan

Courtesy Foreign Office of Pakistan

In statement, Foreign Office says efforts underway to facilitate all genuine visa applicants under existing visa policy, bilateral agreements

Pakistan’s Foreign Office on Sunday rejected reports that there had been any change to the visa policy for residents of India-held Kashmir.

In a statement, the Foreign Office said that reports appearing in a section of media had were “baseless and incorrect.” It said that the “Pakistan High Commission continues to issue visas to residents of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the visa policy of the government and related bilateral agreements between Pakistan and India.”

The statement noted that Islamabad was aware of the humanitarian crisis in India-held Kashmir, which has been in virtual lockdown since Aug. 5, 2019, when New Delhi unilaterally scrapped the special autonomy the disputed territory enjoyed under India’s constitution. With the lockdown rapidly approaching its fifth month, many residents of the region still lack internet access and limited phone service.

According to the statement issued by the Foreign Office, the “High Commission for Pakistan, New Delhi is also taking into cognizance the peculiar humanitarian situation, post August 5, in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir while deciding on visa applications for the residents of the region.” It said that all genuine visa applicants would be facilitated.

“The High Commission is making all efforts to facilitate as much as possible, the genuine visa applicants, particularly those from [India-held Kashmir]. Those who fulfill the visa requirements continue to be issued visas as quickly as possible,” it added.

Pakistan, under Prime Minister Imran Khan, has repeatedly called on the global community to condemn India’s action in Kashmir, alleging significant human rights violations by Indian security forces as they try to keep control of the disputed region following the end of the region’s autonomy.

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