WASHINGTON: Pakistani lawmakers have threatened to boycott their American counterparts and the US itself after a Pakistani legislator was denied a visa to attend a UN-sponsored International Parliamentary Union (IPU) being held in New York.
Amid continually deteriorating ties between the two countries, mainly on account of Pakistan’s use of terrorism, the US Embassy in Islamabad reportedly nixed a visa for Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, who belongs to the fundamentalist Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), well-known for its toxic anti-American rants. Haideri was scheduled to travel to the US with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Senator, retired Lt-Gen Salahuddin Tirmizi on Sunday, but although Tirmizi was given a visa, Haideri’s application was put on hold.
The rejection enraged the Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani, who according to the Pakistani media, has declared that “No delegation, member of Congress or diplomat of the US will be welcomed by the Senate of Pakistan, Senate Standing Committees and the senators in their official capacity till this issue is resolved.” Rabbani also called off the UN visit and ordered that no Senate delegation would visit the US until its diplomatic mission explained the delay in issuance of a visa to Haideri.
Pakistan has come under increasing scrutiny for the terrorism it exports to the sub-continent and beyond, including to the United States. It escaped being placed in the list of seven Muslim-majority countries whose nationals were banned from traveling to the US, even as administration officials and analysts acknowledged that Pakistanis and Saudis, more than any of the seven proscribed countries, undertook acts of terrorism on US soil, including in New York and San Bernardino.
A recent US think-tank report has also recommended that the Trump administration consider denial of visas to Pakistani politicians and military officials known to be involved in terrorism, unless the country gives up its patronage of terrorism.
But Pakistan remains in denial, pointing to the sacrifices it claims it is making in the war on terror despite its open patronage of terror groups and occasional cosmetic actions under international pressure, such as its house arrest of Jamaat ul Dawaa’s Hafiz Saeed.
In increasingly hysterical outbursts, Pakistani officials invoke alleged Indian atrocities in Kashmir, India’s nuclear program, and its alleged subversive activities in Baluchistan to cover its loss of equity with the US and the international community on the terrorism issue.
Proceedings at a think tank discussion on Pakistan, reported yesterday, seem to suggest there are no takers for Pakistan’s narrative, and the latest visa spat reflects the growing chasm with the United States.