Who issued bulk visas to the Americans?
Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan
After the hectic campaign for the attainment of diplomatic immunity for its national, Raymond Davis, United States has finally confessed that, he was a CIA operative, on the spying mission. He is a former member of Special Forces and now works for Xe, commonly known as the Blackwater.
This security company works for the CIA all over the globe as well in Pakistan. Upon the arrest of Ramond Davis, the murderer of two persons, some of the non-standard diplomatic items like; a Glock, a telescope, more than 80 bullets, face masks, GPS and pictures of sensitive installations were recovered from his possession. As per the so far confirmed record, he is on this spying mission in Pakistan from early 2010 and since then has been tripping between Pakistan and US quite frequently. Should a diplomat be carrying all items as mentioned above during his diplomatic assignments, is a big question mark. Raymond Davis has incidentally got exposed once he murdered two innocent Pakistani youth, but there are hundreds of his brothers, whose assignments and exact location may be known to only few even in US.
Apart from the fact, whether, Raymond has the diplomatic immunity or otherwise, every Pakistani is inquisitive to know as to why hundreds of thousands of the US nationals, mostly the men of special forces working for various US intelligence agencies, particularly CIA were given Pakistani visas and who is to be held responsible for that. Pakistani media has been quite informative and vocal, in indicating the influxes’ of the so-called US diplomats on various occasions. As established now, there was immense US pressure on Pakistani authorities for the issuance of the visas to US national and particularly to its spying agents in the garb of diplomats without any prior security clearance and on the short notices. This practice has been more frequent during year 2009/10. Pakistani Embassy in the US has made a record issue of the visas during this tenure. As per rules of the business, issuance of visas in such an enormous number would have called for the formal approval of the Federal Cabinet. Nevertheless, there has been one man show or maximum the decision of the few in the Government, allowing this heavy influx of the US nationals, against the national interest of Pakistan, for promotion of the personal relationship.
Like Raymond Davis, almost all US spies, were issued diplomatic passport and later visas issued by Pakistani authorities accordingly. These people were disguised mostly as the US officials, embassy staffers, diplomats, journalists and media men. Unfortunately, the authorities in Pakistan never questioned the US, as to why such a huge force is being inducted in Pakistan and for what special assignments. DynCorp and Blackwater (Xe), private security companies of the USA, were issued hundreds of visas. These companies have been found involved in spying activities in Pakistan. Despite the reservations from the intelligence agencies of Pakistan, DynCorp was issued exclusive visas for over 50 personnel in 2010.
It is learnt that, Pakistani Embassy in Washington was empowered to issue any number of visas to US nationals for a period of one year, without making a reference to the intelligence agencies of Pakistan. Upon this undesired flexibility, Pakistani Embassy issued 400 visas to US nationals in first two days, including a holiday. It is noteworthy that, in a period of six months; January 2010 to July 2010, Pakistani Embassy in Washington, issued 1895, officials and diplomatic visas. From July 14, 2010, to 30 August, 2010, US embassy issued another 1445 visas to US citizens, mostly in the garb of diplomats. Following the special power given to Pakistani Ambassador in Washington, for the issuance of visas, it is estimated that “approximately 3000 visas had been issued to US officials and diplomats by Pak Embassy in Washington. Though the spokesperson of the US Embassy in Islamabad has not issued any data of US national in Pakistan, however, as per Pakistani in Washington, “approximately 3,555 U.S. diplomats, military officials and employees of allied agencies were issued visas in 2010.”
Nevertheless, the exact data of the US nationals, who are stationed in Pakistan, is still not known. In most of the cases, once security forces tried to be strict on the checking of the US nationals, entering into Pakistan, higher authorities in the Government would stop the checking procedures for these US nationals, issued with special visas. The question arises, as to why such a heavy number of US nationals were given visas without security clearance. Why US needs to raise the level of its manpower to such an extent. Since almost a year, U.S is expanding its mission in Islamabad through a fortified embassy compound by spending over a $1 billion on its construction. This expanded compound would be sufficient to house hundreds of new employees. Besides, U.S is strengthening its consulates in Karachi, Peshawar and Lahore. The former Ambassador, Peterson, had also visited Quetta and met many Baloch nationalists there in 2010. Unfortunately, there have been no worthwhile voices on these expansionist designs of US in Pakistan from various circles. Although, it is already too late, yet, the people in the hierarchal order of Pakistan must question US for over a brigade size force in Pakistan. After all, “There are huge sensitivities. This is not Iraq or Afghanistan. We are not under occupation.” Furthermore, as if this was not enough, on the request of the US authorities, Pakistani Ministry of Interior Affairs, issued licenses of the prohibited bore arms to the private security companies like Inter-Risk, working for the DynCorp and others working for Xe. Through a letter the former US Ambassador, Anne W Patterson, sought the licenses for the weapon of prohibited bore from Interior Minister Rehman Malik in March, 2009. She specially mentioned about the Washington’s security contract with “DynCorp International and their Pakistani sub-contractors Inter-Risk (Pvt) Ltd, and Speed Flo Filter Industries.” The Ambassador also used her influence in getting the weapons of prohibited bore for US security companies and Inter-Risk, working for these US companies. It is worth mentioned that, “US Embassy in Islamabad had ordered the import of around 140 AK-47 rifles and other prohibited weapons in the name of Inter-Risk.”
Now, after the unfortunate incident of the Raymond Davis, Government of Pakistan has started repairing the losses. The Government has decided to shrink the special power given to the Pakistani Ambassador in Washington and imposition of other security checks, necessary to be taken in the national interest. There has been mystifying revelations that, Interior Ministry does not have the updated record of the US nationals serving in Pakistan in various capacities.
Let there be end to the era of special protocol for US spying network in Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan must investigate all those responsible for the flaws in the visa issuance process and reprimand them on their act. The broad criterion should be that, our personal relations and personal gains should not govern the national interests of Pakistan. The sovereignty, integrity and national pride of Pakistan should be kept in the forefront, while developing our relationship across the national frontiers.