Sunday, August 23, 2009

Diplomacy for Visa Lust?

By Krishna Hari Pushkar

Nepal's diplomatic dexterity is a largely discussed and experienced background for its hapless behavior. Global as well as Nepalese eyes are often found itching while viewing the contradictions of our diplomacy. The Public have difficulties seeing any positive changes in diplomatic disposition, or even any changes at all, except changes of diplomats and their vested interests. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Embassies, Consulates and its employees always claim outstanding performance, however the general public are left disappointed.

Peoples read, and watch huge lexis, and click on the various Media, only to be told that Nepal's diplomats are smart, or that they are intensively working to build effective and efficient multilateral and bilateral relationship, to achieve prosperous cooperation, and to fulfill national desires. The diplomatic advocates cite rumors through channels of their own of high performance. However, the realities are atrocious.

Now the public has come to realize that these claims are made just to enjoy diplomatic privilege and immunities, to get appointments, promotions, to remain in charming places, and just to popularize themselves for further career advancement.

As an example, the Nepalese feel difficulties while applying for a visa. It doesn't matter whether a Nepalese is applying for an American, German, British, Chinese, Nigerian, Somalian, Burmese or Bhutanese visa. Especially developed countries exploit the Nepalese visa applicant. Sadly, there are many cases where even the visa holding Nepalese is refused entry, and is expelled, without any justification.

Many countries have already imposed strict visa limits to Nepalese citizens, who had been previously granting either gratis or on-rival visas for decades.

Moreover, the Nepalese have to face another horrible financial exploitation by dozens of world powers. They collect millions of dollars in the name of nonrefundable application fees without ever issuing visas. In Nepal, most of the Nepal-based embassies, consulates, and also India-based missions, whose jurisdiction is to handle Nepalese visas, are profiting from the application fees/administrative costs. They provide a large portion of development aid from the same money that Nepalese applicants paid them in the name of visa application and other administrative fees.
Previously, even many European countries had been issuing on-arrival visas for Nepalese, some developed countries were offering free visas, and some were offering even visa waiver options for Nepalese. Now all these previously enjoyed privileges have banned for Nepalese, although Nepal has been still offering same facilities for these nations as they had in former times. Isn't it unfair?

Now Nepalese are having a very hard time facing the visa process. The radical visa system is against the norms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, the non-granting nations' thought is that it is a great tool to control foreign migration or to intervene in particular developing nations. They believe that manipulating the visa is a great tool to uphold their national interests and also to enforce the public diplomacy in respective countries. They believe it is essential for security, but that does not mean only physical security, but also socioeconomic security, as per the wish of their people and governments.

Experts claim that such types of visa policy may be considered as "Neo-Nazi Visa Syndrome (NNVS)." This policy promotes discrimination, segregation, and ultimately swells the gap between poor and rich. The radical NNVS has been found to promote terrorism. Such visa strategy fuels anger against the developed and developing world. People have committed suicide, due to the hopelessness of continuous visa refusal. Many people have committed serious crimes and have gone bankrupt while trying to get visas. Media reports prove that many foreigners from developed world are often assaulted while traveling in the underdeveloped world due to the visa frustration. In addition, such visa tension has become now a greater source of corruption in many part of the world. It increases illegality, social crimes (paper marriage, divorce, illegal migration, unlawful asylum, family disconnect, domestic and private violence etc) and has left many people with mental disorders across the world. People commit many crimes, and engage in corruption, manipulation, frustration, fakes, mafias and illegal mechanisms either to obtain the visa or to deal with the intricacies of visas.

The visa is a one of the most basic issues of any people who wish to travel abroad. Also, the visa is a principle indicator to know a nation's diplomatic strength and the status of their mutual relations. Observers have found that Nepal's diplomacy is one of the poorest in the world. The general public has to suffer and they feel ashamed of their national diplomatic capabilities while trying to obtain visas for the intended nation, especially for the developed countries (US, UK, Japan, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, France, etc). The diplomatic leaders and top level elite people do not concern themselves about such matters because they hold privileged passports and have access to a discounted visa-obtaining process. Undeniably, it is unfair and an injustice to general citizens. It is surprising to see that there is no evidence yet towards resolving the issue by any Nepalese authorities. The issue was also brought to the attention of the respective bureaucrats of Nepal. They absolutely denied any previous or future plans to address the national anguish, yet shamefully accepted their mistakes. During the study it was also found that no any diplomats or any leaders have forwarded such concerns with any visa imposing governments and authorities as of now. The visa problem for Nepalese has gone beyond tolerance, though it is not yet our national diplomatic priority. Isn't it bizarre?

The question has emerged over the dignity and sovereignty of Nepal. So it is time to pressure our diplomats and political leaders to bring the issues to the global diplomatic arena - that Nepalese also must get easy visa access in accordance with approved and general procedures. An If No visa, then No fee policy should be adopted. Our diplomats must try to use their best efforts to pressure the international community to provide on-arrival short visas. If all the diplomatic efforts fail then maybe the Nepal Government should also impose at least an equal policy and procedure for those nations who give us a hard time.

Of course, the visa imposing nations may argue that simplified visa provisions may cause growing illegal migration, or argue that Nepalese may enter or will stay illegally in developed countries, and this could be a threat on their national security. These arguments may be true, however they are not enough to discriminate or impede a Nepalese from a duly requested visa.

Experts describe many ways to address aforementioned problems and to introduce an efficient and relevant visa policy. The Government of Nepal and respective countries may develop together a joint computerized system along with effective administrative, security, and economical strategy to control and prevent possible threats and crimes.
The Nepalese people do not have any more patience to suffer such dictatorial, insulting and inhuman visa policies. The Nepal Government as well as concerned diplomatic missions and its Government should rethink the visa policy. Everyone should know that Nepalese citizens rank lowest in the global crime involvement index (criminality, illegal stays, and violating the rules and regulation etc. of any visa-imposing countries). The majority of Nepalese have good social, moral, professional and ethical characters wherever they are living. However, it is hard to understand why Nepalese have to face up to such a hard time to obtain visas. Other countries, whose citizens are in the upper ranks in crime index, in comparison to Nepalese, get easy access to visas.

Hence, it is the responsibility of Nepal's Government, as well as of the international community to analyze the unlawful and inhumane visa situation and to fulfill the visa needs of Nepal. Why are mainly Nepalese being discriminated against and exploited? Why are powerful nations violating the norms of the universal declaration of human rights by refusing genuine visa applications and banning the freedom of movement? Often, Nepalese are barred from family reunions, advanced study abroad, research and development, business, medical treatment, employment, tourism and more, due to immense visa refusals. Why Nepalese are being excluded from global opportunity? Why do the developed, powerful, nations consider that a poor country has no human rights, as developed countries have? All concerned authorities should know that they must respect the norms of universal human rights and practice dignified diplomatic norms. Freedom of movement, human dignity, equality, individual sovereignty and mutual respect should not be diminished due to visa or diplomatic despotism. The Government of Nepal should undertake an urgent initiative to resolve the issue properly, otherwise the day will come where on the one hand Nepalese people are totally blocked from international access, and on the other hand, international communities and foreign countries have to face multiple disturbances.

(Mr. Pushkar is a Peace, Security and Conflict Management professional and works under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of Nepal, E-mail:

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