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October 31, 2018

Who issued Pakistani passports to Iranians apprehended in Bahrain?


October 31, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is trying to get the Bahrain government’s ban on work visa for Pakistanis workers lifted but there is no clue as to what the authorities have done against those who have caused serious embarrassment for Islamabad by issuing green passports to Iranian nationals.

In a serious setback both to Islamabad’s image and its human resource export, Bahrain’s had suspended work visas for Pakistani workers a few months back after the Bahraini authorities found Iranian nationals to have landed in the country carrying Pakistani passports. It is said that the Pakistani passports were issued to Iranians in Quetta.

Foreign Office sources claim that they had referred the issue to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) few months back.

However, a senior FIA official in Quetta when contacted was found to be in complete dark about the issue. He told The News that no such issue has been referred to the FIA’s Quetta chapter for probe.

Sources said that this foul play really made the Bahraini government upset and as a consequence it had stopped issuing employment visas to workers from Pakistan in July-Aug this year.

Because of the ban hundreds of Pakistani, who were even issued visas, are not allowed to fly to Bahrain.

Sources said that besides stopping visas for Pakistani workers, Bahrain is carrying out verification of Pakistanis, who are already working or settled there, to ensure that they are Pakistani citizens.

A senior official of the Bureau of Immigration and Overseas Employment, when contacted, told to The News that Bahrain has stopped issuing work visas to Pakistanis for the last few months. The official said that the Bureau does not know the reason but has heard that this extreme step has been taken after the Bahraini authorities apprehended some Iranian nationals holding Pakistani passports.

Bahrain’s importance for Pakistani workforce export could be gauged from the very fact that the share of Pakistanis, who have settled there, make 43% of the total population of the brotherly Muslim country.

According to media reports, after the misuse of Pakistani passport the Pakistanis, who are already settled there, were being summoned to police stations for fingerprint verification. Several Pakistani nationals reported to have told the media that they were asked to report to their nearest police station with their original passport and local residence documents, where they were made to provide impressions of their fingers and palms manually.

Although this ban was imposed during the last caretaker government, the present government has not yet succeeded to restore the past relationship between the two countries vis-a-vis the employment of Pakistanis in Behrain.

According to media reports, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had spoken to his Bahraini counterpart Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa. The foreign minister had thanked Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa for hosting more than 100,000 Pakistani workers in Bahrain, and pledged unwavering support to the government of Bahrain in ensuring peace and security of its citizens.

Shah, it is reported, had expressed the hope that visa restrictions and strict security measures against Pakistanis living in the kingdom would be eased in order to help them live with dignity and honour.

While the local authorities are trying to get the employment visa ban for Pakistanis lifted by Bahrain, on its part Islamabad did not do much to identify and punished those who had issued green passport to Iranians to allow them travel to Bahrain.

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