“I do not know whether it was done to humiliate me or it was a slip-up. I leave it to the Indian Ambassador to decide. Even if it were a slip-up, I certainly would expect the Ambassador to take the official who committed such a great error to task,” Musharraf told XPRESS in a telephonic interview from New Delhi.
The visa issued by the Indian Embassy to Musharraf and his wife Sebha required them to ‘report to the police’ soon after landing in New Delhi last Friday.
As per the visa accord between the two countries, those holding diplomatic passports, including former prime ministers, presidents and their spouses are exempt from reporting to the police and their visas carry an ‘exempted from police reporting’ stamp. All other visitors from both sides are required to report to the nearest police station or Foreigners Registration Office within 24 hours of arriving in each other’s country.
“Me and my wife would have had to report to a police station. It was a very disappointing and frustrating experience. I do not know whether it was done to embarrass me intentionally because the other nine members of our team all had visas with the exemption,” said Musharraf who is on a private visit to New Delhi.
However, the former president was quick to praise the warmth and hospitality of Indian immigration officials at Delhi Airport who quickly rectified the issue.
Asked whether the two nuclear neighbours should ease the repressive visa regime, Musharraf said he is in support of such steps. “I totally agree that the regulations must be eased up. But making rules is one thing and implementing them is another. If this is the way some embassy officials implement the rules, then God save the rules,” said Musharraf.
Commenting on the bungle by his office, M.K. Lokesh, Indian ambassador to the UAE, told XPRESS that it was a ‘human error’ and was corrected immediately.
“It was a mistake by one of our consular staff. I was in New Delhi when the former president arrived in the capital. We immediately took steps to solve the issue and remove the clause from his visa,” Lokesh said.
By Anjana Sankar
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