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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

5,000 Pakistan cricket fans given Indian visa

In a goodwill gesture that can return to haunt the security agencies, India has provided visas to 5,000 Pakistani citizens for watching the ongoing Cricket World Cup matches.
“Most of them have been provided with up to 15-day duration multiple visas to facilitate travel to watch matches in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh also,” a senior official said.Though the Home Ministry said the visas have been given after following well-laid and tough process of security clearances, its own records show that the number of Pakistanis overstaying in India without reporting has increased consistently over the years.
As many as 4,742 Pakistanis had disappeared after expiry of visas in the year 2005, their number had gone up to 5,392 in 2006; 6,038 in 2007; 7,547 in 2008 and 7,691 in 2009.
Only 371 of the 4,742 missing Pakistanis in 2005 were traced and deported. There is no trace of those who remained behind giving credence to security agencies apprehensions that many of such cases could be unwanted elements like terrorists, smugglers, drug dealers and other criminals.The Ministry, however, said all the visas have been given 45 days in advance on the basis of cricket match tickets, return journey tickets, submission of local address and checking their antecedents with the help of Indian Consulates in Pakistan. They will also have to report to the local Foreigners Regional Registration Officers(FRROs). India took a lenient view as Pakistan that was to co-host the ICC World Cup along with Sri Lanka and India was declared unsafe by the ICC following objection by several western countries due to increasing terror attacks.

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