Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka scraps visas on arrival for Pak nationals at Modi’s intervention

June 29, 2014 10:59 PM

New Delhi, June 29: Sri Lanka Government has banned visas on arrival for Pakistan nationals as probe found that India-Bound Jihadis have been using it as a stopover before entering into neighbouring India.

The Sri Lankan Government’s investigations showed that jihadi groups targeting India were using Sri Lanka as a transit point. Lanka is also one of the few countries that extended such a facility to Pakistani nationals.

The TOI report stated that a bomb blast in a Chennai train in May revealed new plots against India by Pakistan-based jihadi groups using Sri Lanka and Maldives as transit points. A multi-national investigation including Malaysia zeroed in on a Lankan national, Shakir Hussain, who confessed that he had visited India over 20 times on reconnaissance trips. He told investigators, as was reported by TOI, that he was facilitating militants from Maldives who were tasked with attacking American and Israeli consulates in Bangalore and Chennai, critical infrastructure like airports and power plants in Chennai among other targets.

The investigation further revealed that and also pointed to involvement by Pakistani officials at their mission in Colombo. Indian officials confirmed that Sri Lanka and Maldives have been red-flagged by Indian security establishment for some time.

The new Maldives president Abdulla Yameen, too, has been sensitized to the growth of fundamentalism among youngsters who may be traveling to Pakistan for religious studies.

Modi, in his first conversations with Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa, had raised this issue which he said was of particular sensitivity to India. On his return, Rajapaksa is believed to have launched an investigation.
The results of the probe have become the basis of the decision.

As a fall out of these investigations a related development, Sri lankan authorities have been rounding up Pakistani asylum seekers-almost 1,600 of them who most likely will be deported back to Pakistan. This has invited sharp criticism from human rights activists and the UN, because many of them are Ahmadiyas (a banned sect in Pakistan) and some of them belong to Shia Muslims. Sunnis Shias rivalry is a well-known fact as Sunnis have targeted  killed hundreds of Shias in bomb blasts  in Pakistan during the past several years.

The Pakistani foreign office has also been intimated about scrapping of visas on arrival for Pakistanis nationals. Hence, they will have to seek pre-departure visas to travel to Sri Lanka. The Lankan government probe revealed that many Pakistanis are arriving as tourists by taking advantage of easy visas on “electronic travel authorization“ but staying on as “refugees“. In 2013, the UNHRC recorded almost 1,600 Pakistani asylum seekers. Lanka has now decided to deport all Pakistanis who have overstayed their visas.

While Indians have traditionally focused on north India as points of infiltration by Pakistan-supported elements, but of late the south India has also become a bit danger zone.

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