Islamabad, Jan 3 (IANS) Pakistan on Thursday abolished the long-standing facility of on-arrival visas for Afghan nationals, citing security risks.
According to the Federal Investigation Agency's (FIA) immigration wing, the decision came due to increased security risks emanating from the western border, the Express Tribune reported.
Following the decision, the Pakistani government also restricted the mobility of Afghan nationals in the country and halted visa issuance on airports and borders crossing points, the report said.
The move casts doubts over Prime Minister Imran Khan's pledge to grant citizenship to around 1.5 million Afghan refugees who have resided in Pakistan for decades.
Speaking to Express News, FIA Immigration Director Ismatullah Junejo said that earlier Afghan nationals were being granted a 30-day visa on arrival at entry points.
Now, as the new policy comes into effect, they will be required to apply for a visa from Pakistani missions in Afghanistan.
Once issued a visa, the Afghan nationals will be allowed entry into Pakistan. Upon entry, they will be asked to fill out details including the time period and place of stay. The details will be forwarded to security agencies for verification.
Once the details are verified, the Afghan nationals will be issued residence and travel permits, the report said.
Pakistan's immigration officials told the Express News that a total of 24 countries were now given on-arrival visa facility.
Pakistan has the largest refugee population in the world, according to the UN. The refugees mostly comprise of the 2.7 million Afghan nationals who fled their native country due to war, violence and ensuing economic turmoil.