Karachi, July 19 : Fearing that they might not return home after their ten-day stay in Canada for the Fourth World Youth Congress, the Canadian High Commission here has refused visas to all the intending Pakistani participants.
The 10-day event is scheduled to kick off on August 11 in Quebec.
Most delegates have received letters from the high commission each stating that the applicant could not satisfy the immigration authorities that he will leave Canada at the end of the temporary period if he is authorised to stay, reported the Dawn.
According to the paper, among those who have been refused visas are young graduates, professionals and civil right activists who were invited by the Peace Child International, an educational charity registered with a UN organisation, ECOSOC, having a network of more than 500 youth eco-groups in 150 countries. The Agency works closely with the UN and its agencies to empower youth to support its member states in achieving the millennium development goals.
The organisers are baffled by the situation, especially since they had notified the Canadian authorities more than two years ago about the event.
One of the 17 delegates from Pakistan, Salman Dhedhi, who studies in a private university and works with the Participatory Development Initiatives as a volunteer, said that they all underwent a rigorous nomination process for which over 5000 people from across the world had applied for participation last year. In a four-month process, the 17 participants from Pakistan were finally short-listed.
Though the accommodation charges of around 350 Canadian dollars were waived for its member countries by the Canadian International Development Agency, the visa and travel expenses to Quebec were nearly 100,000 Canadian dollars for which each candidate had struggled to find some sponsors. "After managing the funds, we applied for the visa but at the final stage, we learned that we cannot travel because of the assumption that we may not return after the event is over," he adds.
"Pakistan is being denied representation at the event that is expected to bring together 600 young delegates from over 120 countries, including India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal," he said.
About the reason for turning down their requests for visa, Senior Media and Public Diplomacy Officer at the Canadian High Commission, Anjum Nida Rahman said: "As a federal government department, the Canadian Immigration and Citizenship (CIC) is bound by the Privacy Act not to discuss the details of any case with anyone except the applicant and certain authorised people.
CIC considers nearly one million applications a year. In many cases, because of the volume of work, even if a person is informed of the reason for the refusal, the information given may be quite brief. For instance, you may be told that based on the information available, the visa officer is not satisfied that the applicant is a genuine visitor who will leave Canada when required to."