'Concerned' US warns Pak about serious repercussions of visa denials

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Washington, Dec. 18 (ANI): Expressing serious concerns over the deliberate delay caused by the Pakistani authorities in issuing visas to American officials, the US State Department has said that such a move could prove detrimental to Washington's efforts to help stabilise the troubled nation.

Addressing a regular briefing here, State Department's deputy spokesperson, Robert Wood, while confirming reports about Pakistan's denial to grant visas, said if the issue persists for long then it would have serious repercussions on the relationship of both the countries.

"Well, it is true. Hundreds of visa applications and renewals for US officials and contractors are awaiting issuance by the Pakistani government. The cause of the delays is unclear," Wood said.

Wood said efforts are on to resolve the issue, The Dawn reports.

Asked if the delay was having an impact on US-Pakistan relations, he said : "In terms of what kind of an impact it may have, I would suspect, if this continues, it will indeed have an impact on our ability to do the work that we want to do to help the Pakistani people, in terms of fighting terrorism; in terms of economic development, and a whole range of issues."

Replying to a question on whether there was a deliberate campaign to harass US officials, the spokesperson said the Obama administration is trying to work out the problem with Islamabad, but added that there are cases that the White House is 'concerned about'.

"I don't think I can call it a deliberate campaign" but "certainly, if any of our officials feel that they are being harassed, there are appropriate channels to go through in order to file complaints about that sort of thing," he added.

According to US officials the Pakistani authorities have refused to extend or approve visas of at least 100 US officials in the recent past.

Moreover, frequent checking of American diplomatic vehicles in major cities across the country has also irked the foreign officials.

According to a diplomat, who is privy to the issue, several top officials, including military attachis, C.I.A. officers, development experts, junior level diplomats and others have fallen prey to this practice.

The obstinate attitude of the Pakistani agencies has also hampered the aid flow into the country. (ANI)

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