KABUL (SW) – Salam Watandar’s findings from the calculation of the estimated quarterly income of the Pakistani embassy in Kabul show that this embassy has been able to earn half a million dollars by rejecting visa requests in Kabul alone in three months.
The statistics provided by the state-owned company “Afghan Tour” to Salam Watandar show that there are 1,464 tourism companies operating in Kabul alone. According to Abdul Ghafoor Amanat, the operational vice-president of this company, most of these companies operate in the field of obtaining Pakistani visas.
However, Salam Watandar’s findings from an estimated calculations of one thousand and twenty-four companies operating in the field of obtaining Pakistani visas in Kabul show that each of these companies has registered an average of 90 Pakistani visa applicants in the last three months. Among them, the visa application of 57 of them has been rejected while all these people had spent 8.18 dollars each to apply for Pakistan visa.
To verify this issue, Salam Watandar has interviewed 25 Pakistani visa applicants and 11 tourism companies in Kabul, Herat, Ghazni and Balkh, all of whom accuse the Pakistani embassy and consulates in Afghanistan of corruption. They say that Pakistani embassies and consulates in Afghanistan reject most visa applications after taking the fee.
According to them, there are cases where a person has paid money to the embassy of this country several times to get a Pakistani visa, but every time the visa application has been rejected without refunding the money. Pakistani visa applicants say that the possibility of legally applying for a Pakistani visa is small and this issue has heated up the black market. They claim that the Pakistani embassy has created the ground for corruption and extorting money from Afghan citizens by rejecting legal visas.
Soheela, a Pakistani visa applicant, says that it takes a long time to get a visa for this country and her application for a Pakistani visa was rejected even after paying the money to the embassy of that country. She added: “The embassy itself is involved with the commission agents. I registered twice, but it was rejected. The embassy itself does illegal things and commits crimes.”
Farhad, another Pakistani visa applicant, also says that the employees of the Pakistani embassy are in collusion with the visa brokers and either reject the visas or sell them to the applicants at an exorbitant price through the brokers. He added: “After the developments in the country, there were many problems in the Pakistani visa department, and the only reason for that is personal and behind-the-scene commissions that have caused many problems to people. In the past, we could get the visa through the online site, but now the embassy employees each have their own commissioners who are in contact with them.”
Pakistan visa applicants say that by rejecting visa applications after receiving money, the Pakistani embassy on the one hand receives a huge amount of money from the applicants and on the other hand, by doing this, it forces people to pay money to agents in the black market.
According to them, the price of an urgent Pakistan visa in the black market is between 1,000 and 1,500 dollars, and the legal price of a normal visa is 8.18 dollars.
Mustafa, another Pakistani visa applicant, says: “This has made the field favorable for the commission agents, and this situation has been created by the Pakistani embassy and its employees because they block the normal process so that the market of commission workers can flourish.”
Hajreh, another Pakistani visa applicant, also says that embassy employees are in league with brokers and sell visas to applicants at exorbitant prices. She added: “The people inside the embassy have direct contact with the commission agents, and visas are sold at a high price from inside the embassy itself. The embassy of Pakistan itself has provided people with the opportunity to smuggle visas, and people are forced to get visas from the commission agents.”
Meanwhile, the officials of 11 tourism companies in Kabul, Herat, Ghazni and Balkh and a number of commission agents also confirm that the Pakistani embassy and consulates in Afghanistan, after receiving money, reject most of the visa requests and force people to go to the commission agents. They confirmed that a number of employees of the Pakistani embassy are in contact with brokers and travel companies and charge huge amounts of money from applicants to issue urgent visas.
The official of one of these companies in Kabul, presenting the statistics, said that in the last three months, 80 Pakistani visa applicants have been registered at the embassy of this country in Kabul, but the request of more than 60 of them has been rejected after taking the money.
He adds: “In terms of percentage, 80% of visas are rejected and 20% of visas are issued. In the last three months, I registered 70 to 80 applications, and the number of visas that came may be around 11 to 12 only.”
Officials of tourism companies who spoke to Salam Watandar say that the price of an urgent Pakistani visa issued in 24 hours is about $1,200, and this type of visa is deliberately issued by the staff of the Pakistani embassy so that they can get more money from the applicants.
The official of one of the tourism companies claims that they are not to blame for the price of Pakistan visa. Rather, the officials of the visa issuing department and the employees of the Pakistani embassy have provided the ground for corruption.
The execution date is 24 hours and its price is currently 1200 dollars in the market. In this section, the companies are not to blame; But the main culprit is the person responsible for issuing the visa, the Pakistani himself, who passes the visa to us through the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan or the embassy employees. They are the main culprits. Travel companies charge a maximum of 50 dollars per visa; But most of the money is taken by the Pakistani employees themselves.”
How does the black market work?
one of the Pakistani visa brokers, about how to issue an urgent visa and how it works, said: “We register the visa application in the system. We send the passport and documents and they draw the visa a day later. The main commissioners are in Pakistan itself and the Pakistani authorities, and we send the documents through WhatsApp. There are many people in that WhatsApp group, but we don’t know who the main person is. Ordinary people cannot do this and there are those who have high knowledge up to ambassadors. The Afghan commissioners get only around 50 dollars for provisions, and all other money goes into the pockets of Pakistanis, and the embassy officials are involved.”
Sami Hammet, head of the tourism companies union in Ghazni, says: “When you enter the visa application in the system, it takes a lot of time and 99% of visas are rejected, but it does not specify the reason and does not return the money.”
Officials of one of the other tourism companies in Balkh also say that the Pakistani delegations reject most of the visa requests and the money paid for the visa is not returned either. Same was reported in Herat.
Aziz Meraj, an expert on political issues and a former diplomat, said the Islamic Emirate should warn the Pakistani diplomats in the first step and take action against them in the second step according to diplomatic principles.”
He said such non-diplomatic moves cause corruption and bribery therefore Afghanistan should inform the officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan about it. “Otherwise, the diplomats who carry out such an act must expel them from their territory within 48 hours.”
Noor Agha Shoaib, a lawyer, said the government should talk to the Pakistani embassy in an official way so that the visa issuance mechanism is clear and legal. “If the government of Pakistan and its embassy in Afghanistan causes corruption, then the Pakistani ambassador should be summoned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to answer.”
We tried to include the views of the officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan and the spokespersons of the Islamic Emirate in this report, but we did not succeed with our calls.