Fazal Amin Shinwari
Islamabad: Pakistan has banned visas for Afghan nationals in Europe after an alleged scam involving hundreds of Afghans obtaining Pakistani visas on fake Swedish residence cards. A letter to this effect has been sent to all of its embassies in the European Union, sources said.
According to sources, acting over the acquisition of Pakistani visas by Afghan nationals through fake documents, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs barred all the Pakistani embassies in Europe from issuing visas to Afghan nationals.
A letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which went viral on social media last week, indicated that the Pakistan embassy in Sweden had granted 1,600 visas to Afghan citizens based on fake residence cards.
The foreign ministry has also ordered a probe into the scandal.
The order of the foreign ministry states that no Afghan national should be issued a visa to Pakistan until further orders are issued, official sources said.
The instructions were issued to Pakistani embassies in the United Kingdom (UK), Spain, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Greece, Austria, Switzerland, France, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands.
Before 2016, Afghans could enter neighboring Pakistan without a visa.
But after Pakistan implemented the National Action Plan to curb extremism and terrorism, it was made mandatory for Afghans to get a visa to visit Pakistan.
The Pakistan mission in Kabul used to issue around 1,000 visas per day to Afghan citizens, but the number decreased after the Taliban took over Kabul in August 2021.