“No one can say when we will get a chance to see India and in such a situation it is a big thing for us to go there and watch cricket. But the problem is that India has not started issuing visas to Pakistani citizens yet.”
Zeeshan Ali who lives in Islamabad was saying this. He loves cricket and therefore wants to go to India and watch the World Cup matches.
“I have bought tickets for Pakistan’s matches against India, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan,” he told the BBC.
Now Zeeshan is feeling depressed after waiting for the visa. He says, “I have also booked a hotel. But it is sad that India has not started issuing visas yet. Waiting for the visa has made me less excited to watch the matches.”
Pakistani cricket fan waiting for visa
The World Cup has started in Ahmedabad on October 5. The first match of the World Cup was played between England and New Zealand.
The absence of spectators in the first match has led to talk of dampening the spirit of the World Cup and on the other hand, hundreds of Pakistani cricket fans are still waiting for visas.
Pakistan’s first match is against Netherlands on Friday (October 6). As the World Cup is being held in India, hordes of cricket lovers from all over the world have already arrived there.
Zeeshan Ali said that he bought a ticket for the India-Pakistan match for Rs 27,000.
If you want a visa to India, as a rule, two things are required. One is the match ticket purchased using your own card along with the booking of the hotel where you will be staying.
He says, “Every day we think that ‘today our luck will open and we will get a visa’ but it doesn’t happen. But now we are slowly getting disheartened.”
It is not only common citizens who have not been given visas, but sports journalists who want to go to India and cover the World Cup have also not got visas.
Can the visa be refused as per rules?
‘Will Pakistani nationals get visa for World Cup or not?’
Every Pakistani who wants to go to India and watch cricket wants an answer to this question. However, till now neither the International Cricket Council (ICC) nor the Indian government has given a satisfactory answer to this question.
The BCCI had said a few days ago that no decision has been taken on the exact number of journalists and cricket fans from Pakistan who will get visas. Therefore, India’s Ministry of External Affairs and ICC are deciding exactly how many visas should be given.
BCCI had said, “We will definitely give visas to some Pakistani cricket fans.”
After this very brief and vague statement, the BCCI and the Government of India have been completely silent on the matter.
What does the Pakistan Cricket Board say?
On the other hand, according to the company that accepts visa applications and passports for the Indian High Commission in Pakistan, they have not yet received any instructions from the Indian High Commission. Due to this, they have currently stopped the process of taking new applications for visas.
The Pakistan Cricket Board has also sent an email to the ICC regarding this. In this he has also referred to the code of conduct of the country hosting the World Cup.
The board of Pakistan has said that not yet granting visas to Pakistani journalists and cricket fans is a violation of the rules.
What do journalists say?
A sports journalist from a private TV station in Pakistan told the BBC that he had already completed his preparations to cover the World Cup matches, but canceled his hotel and plane tickets because he could not get a visa.
He said, “According to the earlier plan, I was going to leave for India today but it was not possible.”
Maria Rajput, a journalist working with Pakistan’s private channel, said, “I remember that our visa for Australia came in three days, but India has not yet issued visas even to ICC-accredited journalists.”
He said that at this time only some selected journalists have been recognized by ICC.
There are many people who have their own YouTube channel or who work in digital media and have booked flight tickets by spending their own money.
Therefore, she said, “If this is the case with journalists, you can guess what is the case with ordinary cricket fans.”
Questioning the role of the Pakistan Cricket Board and the Ministry of External Affairs, she said that these organizations are not giving importance to the issue.
The journalists had also given the list of ICC accredited journalists to the Ministry of External Affairs, so that the matter could be raised at the government level, but four-five days have passed since then and there is no response from there either.
When to get India visa?
On this matter, the spokesperson of Pakistan Cricket Board told BBC that PCB has raised this matter with ICC several times.
He said, “We have emailed them two or three times, but now they have told us that the problem will be resolved in a day or two. After that, journalists will start getting visas to India.”
It should be noted that India’s visa policy for common cricket fans has not yet been clarified and the exact time the process will take has not been disclosed.
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