Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – Former interior minister and PPP leader Rehman Malik claimed that Pakistani visas were still being ‘secretly’ issued to US intelligence officials.

Talking to newsmen outside the Parliament House here on Tuesday, he said the government was accusing the previous PPP government of issuing visas to US spies, though it was still issuing visas to US officials.

He claimed that Pakistani authorities would continue to issue visas to US officials as they were receiving the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) from the US government.

‘Has the government stopped receiving the CSF, which is received by the Ministry of Finance and dispersed through the Ministry of Defence’ he inquired.

‘If the CSF is stopped, then the government will not issue visas to US officials. In fact the process of issuance of visas to US officials has never been stopped by the present government’ alleged Rehman Malik.

Shielding his ex-boss Yousaf Raza Gillani, Malik claimed that the visas issued under Gillani’s regime were not in violation of any law.

The legislator went on and said PPP regulated the visa issuance to Americans and Gillani issued a letter in this regard.

Mr Malik said it was for the first time due to the PPP’s strict policy that issuance of visas to US officials was made conditional to the recommendations of the US State Department.

Pakistan has been receiving the CSF from the United States since the Musharraf regime for providing services to the coalition force fighting against terrorists in Afghanistan.

The visa controversy surfaced when former ambassador to US Hussain Haqqani in an article, earlier this month claimed facilitation of CIA operatives in Pakistan and added that he issued visas to Americans.

However, Haqqani said that he had consulted both the civil and military security wings in the embassy before issuing visas to US officials.

A leaked letter made the situation troublesome for PPP in which it was revealed that Yousaf Raza Gillani empowered Hussain Haqqani to skirt visa protocols.