US imposes sanction on Pakistan; may deny visas to deportees
The United States has imposed visa sanctions on Pakistan for “denying or delaying accepting” its citizen(s) being deported from America.
Pakistan is the 10th country to have been targeted by the US for these sanctions, according to a notification in the US Federal Registry, the official gazette of government rules, on Monday (April 22). The sanctions have been imposed under rules that “discontinue granting visas, when a country has been sanctioned for denying or delaying accepting one or more of its nationals subject to a final order of removal from the United States. The curbs are temporary and enabling”.
The registry said these sanctions were imposed on Pakistan in 2019, along with Ghana, but it did not say exactly when it was done. The immediate trigger for the visa sanction or the number of deportees Pakistan was refusing to take back from the US could not be ascertained.
The registry said these sanctions could start by targeting officials of the government ministries responsible for accepting deportees, and scale up to cover their families and so on. Or, they could “begin more broadly”.
A state department spokesperson told PTI on Friday that US consular operations remain “unchanged” in Pakistan and that “this is a bilateral issue of ongoing discussion between the US and Pakistani governments”.
The United States expects countries to accept their deported citizens, as is the international norm. But Pakistan has been an outlier. In 2015, Pakistan had sent back 26 people deported by Greece citing inadequate identification papers. They were not allowed to leave the European Union flight that had brought them to Islamabad and went back in the same aircraft to Greece.
The other eight countries targeted by the US for visa sanctions so far were Guyana (2001), Gambia (2016), Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea, and Sierra Leone (2017); and Burma and Laos (2018).