Pakistan, whose visa seekers have been put on “extreme vetting” under US President Donald Trump’s new administration, yesterday said the new policy will affect international unity against terrorism.
President Trump on Friday put a four-month ban on allowing refugees into the US and temporarily barred travellers from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries, saying the moves would help protect Americans from terrorist attacks.
“The new US visa policy will not affect terrorists, rather it will increase the woes of people affected from terrorism,” Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said in Islamabad.
“It will harm the international unity and harmony among world fraternity against terrorism.”
“There are around 1.5bn Muslims around the world and all of them cannot be blamed for the misdeeds of a few hundreds,” he said, adding that linking terrorism to Islam was tantamount to negating struggle against this menace.
On Sunday, President Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus opened the possibility of the administration extending to Pakistan the temporary visa ban and “extreme vetting” of travellers imposed on seven countries.
Speaking during “Face the Nation” programme on CBS, he said in the passing that Pakistan may be among countries considered for adding to the enhanced temporary restrictions on travel to the US because of terrorism risks.
The temporary ban covers only Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Later in the programme, “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson pointed out that the woman involved in the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack came to the US from Pakistan on a visa given to fiances.
He tried to pin down Priebus and get a more definitive answer by asking if the country she came from was among the seven covered by the four-month ban and “extreme vetting” of visa applicants because of the terrorism risks cited by the Trump administration.
Priebus would not directly answer the question, but only hinted at the possibility that the restrictions could be extended to Pakistan, saying: “May be we can expand the programme.”
The Trump administration has been treating Pakistan with care because it is a nuclear-armed nation that can impact the future of Afghanistan and the war on terrorism. Moreover, the number of Pakistani Americans and Pakistani permanent residents number into hundreds of thousands.
The San Bernardino attack that killed 22 people was carried out by Syed Rizwan Farook, a US-born Pakistani American, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, a Pakistani who came to the US on a fiance visa and married him.
Meanwhile, Dawn newspaper reported that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, while condemning the plight of Muslims prevented from entering the United States (US) under US President Donald Trump’s immigration ban, expressed hope that the ban is extended to Pakistanis.
“I want to tell all Pakistanis today, I pray that Trump bans Pakistani visas so that we can focus on fixing our country,” Khan told a rally in Sahiwal.
The PTI chief said most educated Pakistanis want to leave this country because they think they can only acquire gainful employment if they have a “powerful source”, and said he believes that things in Pakistan can only improve if people work for progress.
“The day we bring back the merit system back to Pakistan, all our best citizens will return and work for the betterment of this country,” Khan said.
“We will have to fix Pakistan and stand on our own two feet. And the day that we decide this is our home and we have to fix it, we won’t beg for loans from the US and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).”
Khan said the day there is a government that decides it has to live and die in Pakistan, it will fix this country.
“The biggest issue here,” he said, “is the corruption of bigwigs who... become ministers and loot this country, taking the money abroad.”
“They may have elected Trump, but we have elected Nawaz Sharif.”
Lambasting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Khan alleged, the PM had taken money from Pakistan and spent it abroad. “His businesses are abroad, his children are abroad, but he is the prime minister of Pakistan. He even goes abroad for checkups,” he said.
Khan lauded Iran’s tit-for-tat move in response to Trump’s immigration ban, which restricted US nationals travelling to Iran until the ban was lifted.
“Iran is an independent nation and we need to become like them,” Khan asserted.
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