London, Nov 3 (ANI): The UK Border Agency (UKBA) may be unlawfully discriminating against Pakistanis, as there was a worrying lack of confidence in the work of the visa section, particularly in Pakistan visa operations, according to a man appointed to scrutinise the organisation.
"The UK Border Agency was not only failing to be open and transparent about their approach towards customers, but also may be discriminating unlawfully... against Pakistanis," the BBC quoted John Vine, who was appointed by the government in 2008 to act as the UKBA's watchdog, as saying.He also said that senior managers were dismissive of appeal decisions and staff applied "higher evidential requirements for entry to the UK to customers from Pakistan, and this was not made clear to them".
Vine said it was harder to enter the UK from Pakistan than from the Gulf Co-operation Council customers Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
"I believe this means that the UK Border Agency was not only failing to be open and transparent about their approach towards customers, but also may be discriminating unlawfully in favour of Gulf Co-operation Council customers and against Pakistanis," he added.
However, the government said that the process was designed to target visa fraud.
"Our tough checks are there not to target genuine applicants but those who try to obtain a visa through fraudulent means," Immigration Minister Damian Green said.
"That is why we will continue to work closely with the government of Pakistan to stamp out any abuse, and why we take a risk-based approach to decision-making, giving extra scrutiny to those countries where historically fraud has been higher."
Pakistan, which is the fourth largest source of applications to enter the UK, has seen major changes to its visa operation, partly as a reaction to its deteriorating security situation, the report said. (ANI)