Islamabad - An Indian diplomat has been living in Pakistan without a valid visa for the last six months, say Foreign Office (FO) sources.

Both the Foreign Office and interior ministry are responsible for letting an Indian national live in the federal capital without the visa. The diplomat was serving in the Indian High Commission (IHC) in Islamabad and had his visa expired some six months ago.

The FO spokesman Nafees Zakria, however, expressed his ignorance about the matter. On the other hand, the IHC spokesperson confirmed the presence of the Indian diplomat in Islamabad staying without a visa. “Yes, the story is absolutely true but we don’t want his name to be published,” the IHC spokesperson, Balbeer Singh, told Online in a written reply. He asserted the IHC had been requesting the Pakistani authorities in writing and “through other bilateral means” to get visa for the said diplomat.

He refused to identify the said diplomat saying it was against the policy to reveal the names of IHC diplomatic staff.

The IHC had approached the Pakistan’s FO to get his visa renewed. In such cases the FO acted as a post office, since renewing visa for the foreigners is prerogative of the interior ministry. However, the FO could always expedite the process by requesting the interior ministry to cut the bureaucratic delays. The FO spokesperson first expressed his unawareness before making a cautious general statement that case of the Indian diplomat might have been “under process.”

“This is no news story. These are normal practices throughout the world. The process of renewal of visa may take several months. As far as the case is under process, we cannot say the Indian diplomat is living here without a visa,” he justified the situation on the basis of assumption. Both Pakistan and India are signatories to an agreement under which the diplomats are granted visa as per the tenure of their assignment.

The said Indian diplomat was serving in a Middle East country before coming to Islamabad. Though he was supposed to serve at Islamabad station for three years, yet he was granted one-year visa.

Sources said the case file of the Indian diplomat awaits approval from Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who maintains a rather tough stance towards India unlike his boss, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. In a recently-held conference of Saarc home ministers, Ch Nisar exchanged unpleasant rant with his Indian counterpart, Rajnath Singh. Ch Nisar did not play a good host at the conference. He was supposed to have lunch with the home ministers of other Saarc countries, who were visiting Pakistan on his invitation.

Ch Nisar’s absence from the lunch had prompted the Indian home minister to cut short his trip and leave for India early.

Diplomatic standoff between the two neighbouring countries intensified on diplomatic front after the Indian government downgraded Pakistan to a non-school going mission.

The Indian government asked its diplomatic and non-diplomatic staff, in Islamabad, to arrange for the education of their children somewhere outside Pakistan. The decision forced several families of Indian diplomats returned to India.