#ModiPunishesPak. Here comes yet another TimesNow promoted hashtag. Interesting that instead of China, the channel continues its focus on Pakistan. So why is Modi “punishing” Pakistan? How is he doing it? Has there been another surgical strike? What has excited Times Now so much?
The TimesNow video explains that it is about restricting visas for Pakistanis.
“As Pakistan continues to block access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, the Modi government has decided to delink terror with tourism. Ending the UPA era Pak appeasement policy, the NDA has made it clear that it won’t be business as usual with Islamabad. The Center has set a massive cutback in number of visas for Pakistan. In the last 3 months barely 3 visas have been granted to Pakistani citizens… in stark contrast to what situation was earlier during UPA regime. About 80,000 visas were issued to Pakistanis and this included business visas, visas for sportsmen, visas for tourists, visas for religious visits and medical visas. The message is loud and clear. If Pakistan is going to deny visas to Jadhav’s mother, India is not going to roll out a red carpet for them.”
The anchor continues, “Complete contrast between UPA regime and now Narendra Modi’s regime. Narendra Modi has decided to do away with niceties. It’s going to be only a handful of visas, compared to the 21,000 in every quarter that were granted to Pakistanis in the UPA regime.”
Let us take a look at what this so-called “punishment” is all about. Is it such a stark contrast to UPA regime as Times Now would like us to believe?
Sushma Swaraj, in a series of tweets, spoke about the medical visa regulations requiring the recommendation of Sartaj Aziz.
“I have my sympathies for all Pakistan nationals seeking medical visa for their treatment in India. I am sure Mr Sartaj Azziz also has consideration for the nationals of his contry. All that we require is his recommendation for the grant of medical visa to Pakistan nationals. I see no reason why should he hesitate to give his recommendation for nationals of his own country. We also have a visa application pending for an Indian national Mrs. Avantika Jadhav who wants to meet her son in Pakistan against whom they have pronounced a death sentence. I wrote a personal letter to Mr Sartaj Aziz for the grant of her visa to Pakistan. However, Mr. Aziz has not shown the courtesy ven to acknowledge my letter.”
She mentioned the delay by Pakistan in granting visa to the mother of Kulbhushan Jadhav and added “But I assure Pakistani nationals seeking medical visa with a recommendation from Mr. Sartaj Aziz, we will issue the visa immediately.”
V.K. Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs also stated the same in response to a question. “However, in case of Pakistan, we ask for recommendation letter from Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, to process genuine and urgent cases,” he stated.
The number of medical visas has been growing steadily particularly in the last few years. In 2013, out of 56,000 plus medical visitors, only 1090 were from Pakistan. The number of medical visas has gone up to 177,000+ in 2016. In 2015-16, the number of visas to Pakistanis had nearly doubled but the number was still small in comparison to the total.
Other than the medical visa restrictions, we did not find recent notification of any other restrictions in the press.
Number of Pakistani visitors to India
While the number may be down in the last few months after the Kulbhushan Jadav episode, the number of Pakistani visitors peaked under BJP in 2015. That year saw the highest number of visitors since 2001. It was in 2015 under the BJP government that number of Pakistani tourists to India climbed up 29.5% over the previous year and Pakistan made it to one of the top 15 countries in terms of tourist arrivals to India.
Number of tourist arrivals from Pakistan under BJP are as follows:
In last few months there have been restrictions on medical visa but Times Now is clearly going overboard in trying to peddle them as “Modi punishes Pakistan” while also claiming that NDA is ending UPA era Pak appeasement policies. The data clearly shows that the number of Pakistani tourists peaked in the present NDA era and not the UPA era. Essentially, NDA is rolling back its own policy of appearing to be friendly with Pakistan which included PM Modi’s surprise visit to Pakistan.