ISLAMABAD -  The interior ministry has sought input from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and all provinces for the establishment of proposed databank of Chinese nationals, visiting or working in Pakistan, before its formal functioning.

Meanwhile, the ministry has taken a number of steps to streamline its visa regime, in general and for Chinese in specific, for ensuring the national security and security of foreigners after the abduction and subsequent killing of two Chinese nationals in Balochistan.

A working paper prepared by the ministry says that National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has developed the software of proposed databank for Chinese, visiting or living in Pakistan, which has been sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the provinces to get their views.

Then Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had decided to establish databank for Chinese and Nadra was asked to establish software following the abduction of two Chinese nationals, male and female, in Quetta on May 24.

Later on June 8, Arab-based militant organisation—Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for their killing hours after army announced that it had killed some IS affiliated militants in an operation in Mastung area of Balochistan.

On June 12, the interior ministry announced to review, regulate and streamline its visa policy for Chinese keeping in view the killing incident, saying the Chinese nationals were living in Quetta in violation of terms and conditions of the business visas issued to them and were involved in preaching activities instead.

The Ministry of Interior through a notification, available with The Nation, issued recently has taken a number of steps to streamline its visa issuance process for China specifically and other countries as well.

The policy notification says that all visas will be issued under intimation to security agencies. Under the notification, Pakistan Embassy in Beijing will send information on-line to Nadra about all visas issued, on a daily basis. Missions in China will be instructed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to put a stamp of “CPEC Work Via” in case of Chinese coming to Pakistan for working on CPEC projects.

For grant of one year ‘Work Visa’ to Chinese working on government approved/sponsored projects, both in public and private sector, clearance certificate from the Chinese Ministry of Public Security will be mandatory requirement in addition to letters from Chinese companies and letters from relevant sponsor government organisation in Pakistan. Work visa extension will be granted by Secretary Interior for duration of project after seeking feedback of the relevant sponsor government organisation.

Similarly, for grant of 3 months validity Business Visa, original recommendation letter of chambers of commerce in Pakistan and original recommendation letter of Pakistan’s Commercial Attaché in home country of the foreigners will mandatory.

Under the streamlining of visa regime, the notification says that FIA will make provisions in the Integrated Border Management System (IBMS) to record the visa expiry of every foreigner on entry into Pakistan and submit a detailed report to the interior ministry about those foreigners who have not left after expiry of their visas.

Under the new arrangements, visa extension cases will be dealt with by Directorate General of Immigration and Passports, Islamabad and its director general is authorised to extend visas up to maximum period of six months, including initial visa period, on case to case basis and after seeking justification for visa extension and details of activities of the foreigner. The regional passport offices (RPOs) are no longer authorised to extend visa in any category. Any extension beyond six months will be referred to the ministry for approval of secretary or minister. The notification says Nadra will develop an integrated database of foreigners for their registration and tracking. This would include a system for on-line transmission of information from Pakistan’s missions about visas issued to foreigners, their registration at the time of entry and tracking of their inland movement.

According to working paper of the interior ministry, the government has totally issued 11,287 visa extensions to Chinese during 2016 and 2017. In 2017, 7,840 visa extensions were issued, including 4,655 for visit visas, 2,095 for businesses visas, 1,000 for work visas and 90 for NGO visas. In the year 2017, 3,447 visa extensions were issued to Chinese so far including 2,533 for visit visas, 585 for business visas, 299 for work visas and 30 for NGO visas. This shows that the government issued maximum number of visa extensions to Chinese in visit category followed by business and work visas while extensions in NGO visa category is at the lowest.