A day after reports of Pakistan’s Senate deputy-chairman and leader of one of the largest Islamic parties being denied a US visa, another Senator from the same party today alleged that his US visa application was turned down without a valid reason.
Hafiz Hamdullah said he had to wait in a queue for over four hours inside the US embassy's consular section before being told he could not be granted a visa, The Express Tribune reported.
Though the incident dates back to October, just days ahead of the presidential polls in the US on November 8, it comes a day after it was revealed that the Senate Deputy Chairman and secretary general of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri was also denied a US visa.
Haideri's visa denial led to the cancellation of his visit to New York for a meeting of Inter-Parliamentary Union at the UN on February 13-14. He was to lead a two-member delegation. "I was not given any reasons. After a four-hour wait, I was simply informed by the visa office that my application could not be entertained," Hamdullah said.
Haideri and Hamdullah belong to the same JUI-F party. The JUI-F, headed by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, is a coalition partner of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party.
Fazl's party is known to be inclined towards Taliban and critical of US policies in the region. This could be a possible reason behind the visa denials to the politicians.
Haideri's case is being linked to the controversial immigration policy of US President Donald Trump. But the case suggests that the policy of strict vetting of visa applicants from religious parties was in place even during the previous Obama administration.
The US embassy did not comment on Hamdullah's case, citing 'privacy laws', according to the report. And there has been no official reaction so far from Pakistan government or the Foreign Office.
The cases have come to light days after a US court refused to reinstate US President Donald Trump's ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Those countries, however, did not include Pakistan.
In retaliation after the visa denial, Pakistan's senate has said that it will not welcome any US delegation, member of Congress or dignitary in Islamabad.
Chairman of Pakistan's senate Raza Rabbani said yesterday in a statement that no Pakistani senate delegation will visit the U.S. until an explanation for the delay in issuing a visa to Haideri is given by U.S. authorities.
(With PTI inputs)