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Pakistan fans face World Cup visa chaos

Published: Thursday, January 25, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
 
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Karachi:Pakistani cricket fans are being forced to apply to an embassy in sporting rival India for visas to travel to the World Cup in the Caribbean, an official said.

Supporters must send their passports to the Trinidad and Tobago embassy in the Indian capital New Delhi to obtain special visas for all nine countries hosting the games of the March 13 to April 28 event.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is negotiating with the Pakistani foreign office to get the visas issued in Pakistan instead, spokesman Ahsan Malik told AFP.

"There is a precedent that special visa arrangements were made for fans in the past," Malik said.

A Caribbean Community special visa has been introduced for the nine countries involved in the World Cup, in which a record 16 nations are participating.

Citizens from the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland and South Africa are exempt from the visa requirement but supporters from major cricketing countries like India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka are not.

The Trinidadian embassy in Delhi is authorised to issue visas to all fans from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh -- so thousands of fans now face the risk and expense of posting their passports there.

Malik said the PCB had received formal requests from organisations, travel agents and supporters to arrange a visa facility in Pakistan.

"Previously the British High Commission used to issue Caribbean visas but now there is no such arrangement. The PCB is hopeful that very soon we have a temporary authority for issuing World Cup visas in Pakistan," he said.

The PCB was also seeking help from the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), Malik added.

"PCB chairman Nasim Ashraf has talked to the WICB chairman Kenneth Gordon, who has promised to help as he knows Pakistan is a cricket-loving country and a lot of people would like to see the World Cup matches," he said.

Fans said they needed the PCB's help.

"I'm a Canadian citizen so I don't need a visa but three of my friends need visas and they have no clue where to go. If they don't get help their tickets will go to waste," said Saad Siddiqui, who plans to attend the Pakistan matches.

AFP

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