Gilani calls for probe into Osama’s presence in Pak after ‘leaked’ letter on visa policy

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MULTAN: Former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Friday said investigations should be conducted into presence of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Pakistan instead of visas issued by Pakistan’s US embassy to Americans, a day after media reports claimed he had empowered Pakistani envoy to directly issue visas to Americans without approval of concerned officials in 2010.

”US forces didn’t come to Pakistan on visa,” he said while addressing a press conference and called for a probe into issuance of visas between 20002 onward.

“No visa is issued without security clearance, and Hussain Haqqani is also of the same view,” he said.

He said he had made clear to the Pakistani ambassador in US through a letter that visas should be issued only after State Department’s recommendation. He said the letter was sent to different ministries for opinion but granting permission to Pakistani embassy to issue visa to US Special Operations forces was out of the question.

“Giving powers of visa issuance to the ambassador doesn’t mean bypassing rules and regulations,” Yousaf Raza Gilani said.

“Nowhere in the letter is written that ambassador can ignore rules of the embassy”. He said it was written in the letter that the envoy could issue visas instead of refereeing the cases to Pakistan.

He said aim of empowering ambassador is to make him powerful.

“It was Pervez Musharraf who permitted US to use Shamsi Airbase, PPP never granted any such permission to US”.

According to the letter, ‘leaked’ to media and signed by Gilani’s Principal Secretary Nargis Sethi, ‘The Ambassador in Washington is empowered to issue visas valid up to one year without the Embassy having to refer each such aforementioned visa application to the concerned authorities in Pakistan.’

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