Bangladesh halts visas to Pakistanis amid fresh diplomatic row


Bangladesh has halted the issuance of visas to Pakistani nationals and reportedly refused to accept the ‘agreement’ from Islamabad for the appointment of a new high commissioner to Dhaka after a visa extension application of its diplomat was kept pending, according to a media report.

The Bangladesh High Commission in Islamabad has stopped issuing visas to Pakistanis for the last one week as a mark of protest as a Bangladeshi diplomat’s visa-extension application has not been cleared by the Pakistan government for last four months, according to media reports.

According to The Daily Star newspaper, Muhammad Iqbal Hossain, Counsellor (Press) at the Bangladesh High Commission in Islamabad, had submitted visa-extension application to Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry in January, which was subsequently sent to its Interior Ministry. It has still not been cleared.

Hossain’s wife and son had also applied for visas at the Pakistan High Commission but they have not been granted visas yet, the newspaper said.

“Issuance of any visa to Pakistani nationals remains suspended as the visa counter in Bangladesh High Commission in Islamabad has been closed since last Monday [May 13],” Hossain told Dhaka Tribune from the Pakistani capital.

The Daily Star newspaper cited a diplomat in Islamabad as stating that the post of visa officer had been vacant since November last and Hossain was also looking after this section, in addition to his current charge.

Bangladesh has also reportedly refused to accept the ‘agreement’ from Islamabad for the appointment of a new high commissioner.

Media reports said Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs named Saqlain Syedah as its new High Commissioner to Bangladesh, but Dhaka refused to accept the “agreement”, a diplomatic requirement under which a host country has to confirm the appointment of an incoming envoy.

Brahma Chellaney, a strategic thinker and author, said that bilateral ties between Pakistan and Bangladesh have been strained.

“Bangladesh, which seceded from Pakistan in 1971, has accused Pakistan of financing terrorism on its soil. Bilateral ties have become so strained that Bangladesh has refused since 2018 to accept Pakistan’s new high commissioner. Now it has halted granting visas to all Pakistanis,” Chellaney said in a tweet.