Pakistan lawmakers threaten to boycott Americans after US denies visa to Senate Deputy Chairman

Islamabad: After Pakistan’s Senate Deputy Chairman and leader of one of the largest Islamic parties was denied a US visa, Pakistani lawmakers have threatened to boycott their American counterparts.

On Sunday, Pakistan Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani announced a boycott of the UN-sponsored Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) being held in New York on February 13 and 14, after the US failed to issue a visa to his deputy, who was to represent Pakistan at the forum.

Rabbani has issued directives to his secretariat not to entertain any US delegation or diplomat till the issue was resolved.

“No delegation, member of Congress or diplomat of the US will be welcomed by the Senate of Pakistan, Senate Standing Committees and the senators in their official capacity till this issue is resolved,” Rabbani said in a statement issued to media.

Molana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, the deputy chairman and the secretary-general of Jamiatul-Ulema-e-Islam (F) (JUI-F), was scheduled to lead a two-member Senate delegation at IPU meeting.

“The visa of Haideri was put on hold in what can be termed a technical refusal,” the Express Tribune reported, quoting its sources.

Senator Lt Gen (retd) Salahuddin Tirmizi – who was to accompany Haideri – was granted a visa just two days before.

The visit of the two senators has now been cancelled on the direction of the Pakistan Senate Chairman.

The move comes days after a US court refused to reinstate President Donald Trump’s ban on people from seven Muslim- majority countries, which did not include Pakistan.

Trump signed an executive order last month barring citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days, fulfilling one of his campaign promises.

Citing official sources, the paper said the Senate Secretariat had applied for official visas for them two weeks ago.

“They said when the Senate Secretariat checked with the US Embassy about the status of Haideri’s passport through official channels, it was told that the US authorities would get back to it by Tuesday, clearly meaning that Haideri could not travel to the US to attend the IPU conference,” it said.

“It is a technical refusal,” a top Senate official said.