India tightens visa rules for Afghans amid security concerns

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 02, 2016 15:03 IST
File photo of Afghan foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani. (Afghan foreign ministry)

India has tightened visa controls for Afghan nationals because of concerns over Afghan passports being found in the possession of citizens of countries neighbouring Afghanistan, foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani has said.

He made the remarks after the Meshrano Jirga, or upper house of parliament, summoned him on Sunday to explain “visa restrictions” imposed by India for Afghan nationals, according to reports in the Afghan media.

Rabbani did not name the countries whose citizens had obtained Afghan passports. However, Afghan media reports quoted senators as saying that the move was linked to Indian concerns about Pakistan.

“The minister of foreign affairs was directly hinting at Pakistan,” Asef Sediqi, a senator, was quoted as saying by Tolo News.

The senators said they believed India had taken the step to prevent the entry of militants.

“Regional countries are concerned that suspected militants of Daesh, Taliban and other terrorist groups might enter into their countries from Afghanistan,” said Gulalai Akbari, another senator.

Rabbani said India is “concerned over the easy access to Afghan passports by nationals of neighbouring countries and has urged (the Afghan) government to resolve the issue”.

“Unfortunately, Afghan passports have been seen with citizens of other countries, which is a matter of concern for the Indian embassy in Kabul,” he said.

Under the new rules, he said Afghans applying for Indian visas have to provide a bank statement and those going to India for medical treatment should present a report from a doctor stating that they cannot be treated in Afghanistan, Rabbani said.

This comes months after Afghan citizens faced similar restrictions in obtaining visas from the United Arab Emirates. The issue with UAE also emerged because of concerns that the citizens of other countries had misused Afghan passports, the media reports said.

Hundreds of Afghans travel to India every year to meet relatives staying in the country and for medical treatment.

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