Ties between the United and States and Pakistan have taken a hit after the US Embassy in Islamabad delayed a visa for Pakistani Senate Deputy Chairman Abdul Ghafoor Haideri. Pakistani diplomats have decided to boycott an event sponsored by the United Nations in the US, to mark their protest against the “undue delay”, according to a statement.
Haideri, along with Senator Salahuddin Tirmizi, was scheduled to attend the two-day Inter-Parliamentary Union event on environmental subjects, starting Monday, at the UN headquarters in New York City. While Tirmizi’s visa was granted, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani cancelled the trip because of the delay in issuing Haideri’s visa. Rabbani also barred other senators from visiting the US or meeting officials from the country till the matter is resolved, “unless an explanation for the delay in issuance of visa” is given, Dawn reported.
“I would not have reacted if he [Haideri] was going as an individual. But they [the US] must realise that it’s the parliament they are dealing with,” Rabbani told the Financial Times on Sunday.
Haideri’s Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam party’s evidently anti-US position may have played a factor in the delay. “The party’s reputation makes it very suspect. They have ties to the Taliban, and someone like Haideri will definitely be seen as a hostile person”, a senior western diplomat told Financial Times. “The Americans may have just assessed him on his party’s credentials, not as a senior political representative [of the parliament].”
The news comes days after the Donald Trump administration lost an appeal against a federal court’s decision to put a temporary stay on the new president’s immigration ban in the US. Trump had signed an executive order to bar the entry of nationals from seven Muslim-majority nations to the US, but a court passed a restraining order on it.-i=
However, a senior Pakistani diplomat told the British newspaper that the delay in Haideri’s visa “may not have been directly due to any new policies by Trump”. But he added “the Pakistani public will definitely see this episode as evidence of growing US hatred of Muslims”.