American visa ban on Pakistan most likely: U.S. sources

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 3 : White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has hinted that Pakistan may be added to the list of countries whose citizens are barred from entering the U.S.

While, senior Trump official did not identify Pakistan by name sources close to the Trump administration have said that it is a matter of time before Pakistan is included in the list of nations whose passport holders are barred from entering the U.S.

U.S. sources say that the President is "keenly aware" about who gave Osama Bin Laden shelter and from where most of the World's terrorism has emanated.

Signals have already gone out to the Pakistani authorities about the impending decision which led to the current house arrest of LeT head Hafiz Saeed.

But, senior levels of the Trump administration have not been "taken in" by this move by Islamabad which most officials write off as "pulling wool" and not "a serious move which has convinced no one at the White House".

Though not known to many, Kuwait, a Muslim-majority country has imposed ban on issue of visas to Pakistani nationals since 2011, along with Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Yemen.

Security concerns from radical elements and rising cases of drug trafficking from Pakistan were some of the reasons for it being placed on this list.

Further, Kuwait's deep-seated suspicion regarding the Pakistani government's links to terror groups has resulted in the country not providing visa waiver to Pakistani diplomatic and official passport holders, in contravention to the visa waiver agreement for these two categories of passports, signed by the two countries.

And despite the Pakistani Foreign Office pursuing this matter with the Kuwaiti authorities for years, there has been no progress.

On the contrary, the involvement of three Pakistani nationals in the bombing at the Shia Imam Jafar al Sadiq mosque in Kuwait, that killed 27 persons on June 26, 2015 has further hardened Kuwait's stance vis-a-vis Pakistan.

While there has been no public reaction to the Kuwaiti order, there was increasing concern among the Pakistanis after Reince Priebus, White House Chief of Staff, hinted that Pakistan may be added to the list of countries, along with Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia , Sudan and Yemen, whose citizens are barred from entering the US.

The Pakistan government reacted to this possibility with a warning that in case of such a move by the U.S., it would reduce its cooperation with Washington in the fight against Islamist terror groups in case.

However, Imran Khan, leader of the PakistanTehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party came out in support and hoped that the Trump administration would consider stopping visas for Pakistanis to travel to the US.

In his view, such a move would help Pakistanis focus on developing their own country. Similarly, Arif jamal , a U.S. -based security and Islam expert, responded to the Presidential order by stating that Trump's travel ban made no sense without Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on the list.

With the country being more and more associated as the hub of terrorism, it is indeed surprising how Pakistan in the first place did not figure in the US list.

It has become increasingly imperative that in order to force countries like Pakistan to end sponsoring terror groups, tough measures like visa bans are implemented.

Such bans would directly hurt the elite in the country, who in turn were likely to build pressure on policy-makers to do a re-think on terror-related policies.

Source: ANI