Bangladesh did not stop issuing visas to Pakistan nationals, foreign minister AK Abdul Momen said on Tuesday.
‘We haven’t stopped issuing visa,’ he said at a press conference at his office, adding that the visa problem began as Pakistan kept pending decisions for several months on renewing [diplomatic] visas to a Bangladesh official who was in charge of consular section at Bangladesh High Commission in Islamabad.
The official was discharging responsibilities with the visa section in addition to his regular responsibility as counsellor of the press wing, Momen said.
A Bangladesh diplomat in Islamabad said the mission had to stop extending visa services due to a shortage of officers as the officer-in-charge of the consular section Muhammad Iqbal Hossain declined to discharge responsibilities in addition to his regular duties at the press section.
The Pakistan authorities also kept decisions pending on granting visas to Hossain’s daughter, who has been staying with him in Islamabad, and his spouse and son, who were intending to travel to Islamabad.
Hossain applied seeking renewal of visa in January much before the expiry of his visa on March 30.
The Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka has also kept decision pending for several months on granting a visa to another Bangladesh official, who was supposed to take the office of the counsellor of consular section. ‘How visa would be issued if counsellor (consular) does not get the visa to travel to Pakistan, Momen said.
Diplomatic visa row had begun as the Bangladesh government informally declined last year to accept Pakistani diplomat Saqlain Sayeda as high commissioner of the country to Dhaka.
Bangladesh requested the Pakistan authorities in different channels to nominate another person as Pakistan high commissioner to Dhaka, a senior official said, adding that Pakistan was yet to propose any new name till Tuesday.
Foreign ministry officials in Dhaka said they were expecting a new name as the Pakistan authorities have appointed Saqlain Sayeda high commissioner of the country to Kenya on Monday.
The government would consider if Pakistan presents a new name, Momen added.