The visa section in the British High Commission Islamabad has cleared 4000 appeals cases in the last five weeks with regard to settlement and family visitor categories. This was stated by the British Home Office Minister responsible for Immigration Phil Woolas in response to question raised by Lord Nazir Ahmed regarding visa situation in Islamabad and Abu Dhabi. According to Woolas, the Home Office has deployed additional temporary staff to Islamabad and Abu Dhabi to clear the backlogs and get the operations working smoothly. Woolas expressed his satisfaction at the good progress noting that at the beginning of September there were 7,000 cases not yet considered by an Entrance Clearance Officer. We have already reduced this down to 1500 and expect to see this eliminated by the middle of November, he wrote in his letter addressed to Lord Ahmed, a Labour peer who released it to the media. Acknowledging that delays in the appeals process are of particular concern to many of Lord Ahmeds constituents in Rotherham, northern England, the Minister said historically there have been high volumes of appeals in settlement and family visitor categories in Islamabad (about 4,000 a month) which have posed challenges. He said additional temporary staff in Islamabad are now tackling outstanding appeals cases and they have cleared 4,000 in the last five weeks and this work will continue. Explaining further, Woolas pointed out that even on receipt of an allowed appeal they have to carry out further checks on the current circumstances of the applicant given the time that has usually elapsed since the original application. We continue to make all efforts in these cases to make contact with applicants but it is not always straightforward to do so. He also spoke of the tough checks introduced by the British Government around the world for anyone applying for a visa to enter the UK and said these are not specific to Pakistan though the authorities remain highly vigilant in view of the prevalence of false documents submitted with Pakistani applications. We will not cut corners in our checks as we clear this backlog and we keep the levels of checks under review to ensure we are responding adequately to the current level of threat. This will have an impact on the speed with which are able to work, as will the current security situation and the IT platform on which are operating. However, Woolas assured Lord Ahmed that British staff in Pakistan, Abu Dhabi and the UK are working extremely hard to reduce processing times and improve the service to all customers in Pakistan. We are also taking every step to ensure the rules are clear and advice on the application process is available to our customers, the Minister said while regretting the current delays in the Pakistan visa operation which has resulted in the frustration of applicants who have been waiting for long periods for their visas to be processed.