by Imtiaz Ahmed Barkazai, Karachi, Sindh
Courtesy: Statesman on 26/9/2009
I am a senior government official with blue passport, besides I am an agriculturist possessing ancestral agricultural property and such income is being regularly declared by me. I have been visiting United Kingdom since 1983 and have visited this great country various occasions as I like its historical sites and its hospitable people.
Latest visa was issued to me and my family on 3rd June 2005 which was valid up to 03-06-2007 and we visited UK last, on 19th July 2005 for 16 days.
On 6th July 2009 I applied for fresh visa for myself and my wife and 3 children and had duly filled General Visitors Form and enclosed covering letter to Counsel General of UK at Karachi mentioning that I had in balance Rs 3,053,602 as cash in hand and in Bank which was evident from Return of Income filed before the Income Tax Authorities; enclosing copies last 3 years such Returns with the letter. Besides this, I had attached 13 annexure which included evidence of holding shares worth more than Rs3 million. Evidence of owning ancestral properties, copies of four Gold Credit Cards issued by different banks and three banks statements etc. duly declared by me.
The passports and supporting documents were delivered through Jerry’s (Pvt) Ltd. After holding our passports for about 3 months by the UK authorities, on 12.09.2009 I was conveyed regrets of entry clearance on the following factually incorrect grounds by the Entry Clearance Officer (ECO), though satisfied that I met the requirements of paragraph 41 of the Immigration Rules:
a) That I have at my credit 196,830 PkR equivalent to 1458 UK pound sterling which is insufficient to pay for my and my family’s visit expenses”.
b) That because of claiming visit to be ‘pleasure trip’ I had not given any places of the trip and also not shown booking in the hotels therefore was not a genuine visitor.
First of all the ECO did not even bother to see the contents of covering letter addressed to Counsel General wherein it was mentioned clearly that I possess cash in hand and in bank at Rs30,536,02 which is equivalent to 22619 pound sterling. These funds had duly been declared in my Return of Income for the year 2008. Moreover from annexure ‘A’ and ‘B’ enclosed with the visa form wherein dividend warrants of shares worth Rs3,000,000 including copies of Gold Credit Cards of four foreign and National Bank were enclosed. The ECO mentioned only closing balance of NBP a/c amounting to Rs196,830 without even caring to check or consider the closing balances of other 2 Banks accounts of MCB Clifton Branch which were also enclosed with the visa form.
As regards “genuineness of visit” I may state that in all forms that I had filled during my previous visits I had never mentioned any place of the anticipated trip nor I had any booking in hotel in advance but no such query was ever raised. Moreover when the examination of visa application takes three months and even UK Consulate is not sure how much time it would take for deciding the Visa request, how plans for arrival and hotel bookings can be intimated especially when I am working for Government. Such information can only be made available once visa is issued.
It is evident from the above submissions that visa requested by me which is supported by evidences has been refused after holding by passports for 3 months on factually incorrect assumption, without looking into even the attached information and documents; the fact can be undeniably proved. Moreover this has resulted in double jeopardy since fee charged on the form has been forfeited.
Irony is that the Visa Officer does not even care to read the Bank Statements and other enclosures properly. This surely has created an impression that visa to genuine Pakistanis visitors is being deliberately denied on the basis of racial discrimination on the one hand and on the other hand exorbitant and non refundable fees are collected which bound to give bad image to your great country.
The UK High Commission and UK Foreign office who claim to be champion of Civil Liberties and Human Rights is requested to intervene and check why the genuine and regular visitors like me are being denied UK visa on absolutely and factually incorrect and flimsy grounds which can be proved from the documents filed with Visa form. I hope that my grievance of being unjustifiably deprived of Visa is addressed at the right earnest.
C-2/7 Feroze Nana Road
Bath Island Karachi Bath Island