By Hamayun Khan
Having been affected by the decades of turmoil and loss of almost all the institutions including hospitals, Afghans have chosen Pakistan as a cost effective and an accessible destination for treatment. Though people get convenient cure in the hospitals of Peshawar, Pakistan, but still there are some obstacles disrupting the Afghan patients in Pakistan. visa issue being one of those, which has proven to be a heinous issue for ordinary Afghans who can hardly afford the expenses and visit Pakistan.
After repatriation of the Afghan immigrants to Afghanistan, and the political tensions that have surged between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Pakistan government have started closing the Turkham gate and the immigration rules have been reconsidered and imposed by the Pakistani officials resulted in hindrances for the Afghans who used to visit Pakistan for treatment, this practice has turned out to be forcing the Afghans to stand in lines for hours for Pakistani visa issuance at the consulate of Pakistan, Nangarhar.
Reports show that every day around 1800 Pakistani visas are issued to Afghans in Pakistan consulate at Nangarhar; people have to rush up to the consulate before the dawn to grab turns at the queue to get their visas issued on time. standing at queue has proven fatigue for the people, as they have to bear the unfair behaviour of the security guards, patients are forced to stand at line regardless of how and what illness they suffer.
Issuance of a limit number of visas has led to the emergence of sever complications that the Afghans cannot bear. according to reports; many old age people have died due suffocation, losing conscious, becoming faint while they are standing at queues for too long. “I have been waiting for 6 days to get my visa issued, I have to sleep on footpath with my two female family members, both are suffering serious illness of having stones in their stomachs, we are forced to bear this misery in the hope to get the visa, because there is no other alternative left for us” Said Shakur in an interview with Mashal Radio.
Officials of the Pakistan’s consulate at Jalalabad claimed in a press conference that they issue around 1800 visas each day, but they receive approximately 4000 visas applications every day, which is quite difficult to handle. The applicants include both male and female elders and youngsters.
To avert further headache, the following points should be considered:
- Both the governments should work on visa-free entry towards.
- Visa policy should be changed and converted to a card system or online visa-tasking, if it was not likely to change and visa-on system goes on at least it should be with arrival facilities.
- Pakistan needs to allow the compelled applicants to make free entries with their own relevant documents i.e. students should be facilitated with making unasked entries while holding university ID cards, businessmen with their commercial papers and medical patients with medical test reports.
- To train the security guards working at the consulate for improving their skills of how to deal in different situations and treat applicants instead of harming and beating them.
*Hamayun Khan, is an Afghanistan-based researcher, and a final year MBA student at Punjab technical University, India.