UK visa office to return to Pakistan

The United Kingdom has decided to relocate its visa office from the United Arab Emirates to Pakistan to address the issue of delays in the issuing of visas, British Home Affairs Secretary Alan Johnson said on Tuesday.

He was talking to reporters with Interior Minister Rehman Malik after they held detailed talks on various issues, including the delay in visa issuance, illegal immigration, terrorism and extremism.

“The visa section was transferred to UAE as the IT system in Pakistan was not updated, but we are working on it and by the next month (November), the visa section would start operating from here,” Johnson said.

He also announced that the UK had decided to reduce the time period for issuing visas from 60 days to between 15 and 20 days.

Earlier, Johnson and Malik agreed to increase cooperation in the war on terror, as both countries faced a common threat. The two also discussed the issue of Pakistani students who had been arrested by British authorities on charges of planning a terror attack in the UK.

Security agency: Johnson also said that Britain would help Pakistan set up a national security authority and beef up the capacity of its law enforcing agencies to fight terrorism, Reuters reported.

The British home secretary told reporters that the UK was keen to provide expertise to Pakistan to help combat terrorism. “The Pakistan government is setting up a national counter-terrorism agency and the UK is ready to second people to that, ready to provide help and assistance,” Johnson said.

Johnson did not say how many British people would be involved in the agency, which he said would be like a research centre. “The important point is to have a relationship where we can share intelligence between our two countries and that we will do very effectively,” he said. staff report/reuters

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