News

US Complains of Pakistani Visa Holdups for Embassy Officials

The State Department on Thursday expressed serious concern about delays by the Pakistani government in the issuance of visas for officials and contractors assigned to U.S. diplomatic posts in Pakistan.

US Complains of Pakistani Visa Holdups for Embassy Officials
US Complains of Pakistani Visa Holdups for Embassy Officials

Multimedia

Audio

The State Department on Thursday expressed serious concern about delays by the Pakistani government in the issuance of visas for officials and contractors assigned to U.S. diplomatic posts in Pakistan.  U.S. officials say that if the pattern continues, it could impede expanded aid and military cooperation programs with Pakistan. 

The State Department has taken the unusual step of going public with concerns about what is described here as large-scale Pakistani foot-dragging in the issuance of visas for U.S. officials and contractors seeking to enter Pakistan to implement U.S. aid programs.

At a news briefing, State Department Deputy Spokesman Robert Wood said the delays affect hundreds of U.S. diplomats and others newly assigned to Pakistan, and those already there seeking to extend their stays.

Wood said the United States has raised the issue at senior levels with the Pakistani government and is concerned about the impact the delays could have on U.S. military and civilian aid programs for Pakistan, which are being sharply increased to help that country cope with extremist threats and economic problems.

"We are working with our Pakistani counterparts to try to resolve these issues, and we are working very hard," he said. "In terms of the kind of impact it may have, I would suspect that if this continues, it will indeed have an impact on our ability to do the work that we want to do to help the Pakistan people in terms of fighting terrorism, in terms of economic development, a whole range of issues.  So we're trying to work these issues with the government of Pakistan."

The issue surfaced in a New York Times story on Thursday from Islamabad that quoted U.S. officials there as blaming elements of the Pakistani military and intelligence services for a pattern of harassment against embassy personnel.

The newspaper said U.S. officials believe the visa delays and other actions, such as frequent searches of embassy vehicles, reflect resentment in some quarters for the expansion of the U.S. presence in Pakistan to administer growing aid programs, and resentment over U.S. demands that Pakistan step up action against extremists.

The New York Times quoted Pakistani officials as complaining about "arrogant" behavior by U.S. personnel.

A senior U.S. official who spoke to reporters here said he would not take issue with the idea that Pakistani security authorities, as opposed to civilian officials, are behind the visa delays.

He said the problem, which extends back several months, has been raised with Pakistani officials "at very senior levels" and that Pakistani explanations have been unsatisfactory.

The senior official acknowledged that the public standing of the United States and other Western countries in Pakistan "is not all that high."  But he said Pakistani officials should not act on the basis of opinion polls and should understand that the United States, with its increased aid commitments, is trying to help bring stability to the country.

He also noted that the U.S. Congress, which approved a five-year, $7.5 billion civilian aid program for Pakistan in October, pays close attention to such issues.  

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs