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Kuwait visa restrictions for Pakistanis

THERE is a total ban on all types of visas for Pakistanis in Kuwait. The ban, imposed on nationals from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, includes suspending all tourism, visit and trade visas as well as visas sponsored by spouses.

It is indeed the prerogative of the Kuwaiti government to hire immigrant workers from any country. However Pakistanis already working in Kuwait must be governed by laws so as not to put them under additional emotional stress, resulting from forced separation from their families.

There have been a number of cases where families have been sent back to Pakistan after paying a hefty penalty since even after the completion of medical, fingerprinting and other formalities, residence visa was not stamped.

Scores of letters from resident Pakistanis in Kuwait appear in local newspapers on a regular basis pleading with the government of Kuwait to issue family visas and not to separate children from parents, and husbands from wives.

To all these queries newspapers respond by writing: “As this is a government decision, it is useless to approach any official. No one can do anything until the government lifts the ban.

The only thing you (Pakistanis) can do is approach your (Pakistani) embassy to ask the Pakistan government to intervene by sending a senior official to Kuwait to discuss the issue. There is no other remedy at the moment.”

Also the ban has been attributed to the ‘difficult security conditions in the five countries’ and to the tendency among nationals of the five countries to apply for visas to bring in relatives who face or could face arrest by local authorities.

We have been authors of our own misfortune.

The ethnic and sectarian bloodshed taking place in Pakistan is well reported here in the media. There was a time when Pakistanis commanded a certain amount of respect.

Prime Minister Gilani visited Kuwait about a year back but as expected nothing came out for the common man.

As they say, hope is the common man’s bread, so I can only hope that the Government of Pakistan would take up this matter with the Government of Kuwait and request it to open at least family visas on compassionate and humanitarian grounds.

By NASIR KHAN Kuwait Published in Dawn, Pakistan

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