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India Curbs Visas for Pakistani Citizens Fearing Terror Plot

© AP Photo / Channi AnandIn this Dec. 22, 2013 photo, an Indian army soldier stands guard along barbed wire near the Line of Control (LOC), that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, at Krishna Ghati (KG Sector) in Poonch, 290 kilometers (180 miles) from Jammu, India
In this Dec. 22, 2013 photo, an Indian army soldier stands guard along barbed wire near the Line of Control (LOC), that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, at Krishna Ghati (KG Sector) in Poonch, 290 kilometers (180 miles) from Jammu, India - Sputnik International
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India has drastically reduced the number of visas issued to Pakistani citizens amid intelligence reports claiming that Pakistan based terrorists could enter into India for terror plots.

In this Dec. 22, 2013 photo, an Indian army soldier stands guard along barbed wire near the Line of Control (LOC), that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, at Krishna Ghati (KG Sector) in Poonch, 290 kilometers (180 miles) from Jammu, India - Sputnik International
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New Delhi (Sputnik) It has become a nightmare for the thousands of Pakistani citizens to get Indian visa to meet their families across the border as every second visa application is being rejected.

There has been enormous increase in the numbers of visas being rejected by India. According to the Indian Home Ministry records, 17 percent of visas were rejected in 2014, while in 2015 the rejection percentage was 24. But in 2016 the Indian Home Ministry rejected 53 percent of visa applications. 

The Indian Home Ministry issues visas for Pakistani citizens, and out of 33,191 applications received this year till May — 17,581 were rejected.

The Home Ministry cites internal security as the main reason for the stringent curbs in issuing visas.

Indian intelligence agencies issued a report after the Pathankot attack stating that Pakistan based terrorists could enter into India, leading to increased scrutiny of visa applications.

Rejection of visas for security concerns has compounded the problems of those Pakistani citizens who have families in India and many of them also visit India for religious purposes.  

Apart from Pakistani citizens, increased instances of visa denials have raised concerns in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs also. Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad had written a letter to the Indian Home Secretary asking for the reasons for the frequent visa rejections.

What is more interesting is that the Indian Home Ministry and Ministry of External Affairs have different views on this issue. While the Ministry of External Affairs supports a liberalized visa regime to strengthen people-to-people contact between the two countries, the Home Ministry is in favor of fewer visas for Pakistani citizens due to security concerns.

Whatever the real reason, it has become yet another irritant in India-Pakistan relations.

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