OPERATED BY CEJ

Misleading

FACT-CHECKED

by CEJ |

Canadian visa restrictions for Pakistani military personnel are not a recent development

On July 8, 2024, a post shared on social media platform X claimed that no Canadian visas would now be issued to Pakistani military personnel. However, Canadian visa restrictions for Pakistani military personnel are not a recent development and have been in place at least as far back as 2007.

Claim

Canadian visas no longer to be issued to Pakistani military personnel

Rating Justification

The iVerify Pakistan team has reviewed this content and determined that it is misleading.

To reach this conclusion, the iVerify Pakistan team conducted a keyword search to corroborate the matter and find any news reports on the alleged development.

Multiple posts circulating on social media platforms since July 8, 2024, claimed that no visas to Canada will now be issued to Pakistani military personnel. However, visa restrictions for Pakistani military personnel are not a recent development and have been in effect at least as far back as 2007.

According to the Canadian government, an individual may be found inadmissible to enter the country for security reasons, including espionage, subversion, violence or terrorism, or membership of an organisation involved in any of these.

Other reasons for rejection include human or international rights violations, including war crimes, crimes against humanity or being a “senior official in a government engaged in gross human rights violations or subject to international sanctions”.

HOW IT STARTED

On July 8, 2024, a post was shared by an X user who appeared to be a PTI supporter, according to her past posts with the caption: “Big news. No visa will be given to any Pakistani general in Canada and their properties will also be confiscated, such a great disgrace.”

The post was seen by over 32,000 people.

The same claim was also shared on social media platform Facebook and can be seen here.

METHODOLOGY

A fact check was initiated to determine the veracity of the claim due to its virality and keen public interest as it involved visa restrictions on military personnel which could impact travel.

To investigate the claim, a keyword search was conducted for “Pakistan military personnel”, “Canada” and “visa” to find relevant reports and news stories that could corroborate the development but none were found.

However, a report dated May 30, 2015, from leading English publication Dawn was found with the headline, “Canadian govt urged to relax visa restrictions for Pak military personnel”.

According to the story, since 2007, Pakistani military personnel have been denied visas to Canada under Clause 34 (1) of the Canadian Immigration Act, which disallows entry to individuals involved in force, posing threats to security, espionage, or subversion. The defence ministry had asked Canada to relax these restrictions.

Similarly, a May 15, 2024, X post by former defence secretary retired Lt Gen Asif Yasin Malik said he had applied for a visit visa in February but was told three months later that the application was denied.

Offering insight on the situation, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani had said in a May 16 X post: “Canada has refused visas to some former Pakistani intelligence officers because of a law that bars entry of those suspected of terrorism or human rights violations. They avoid listing reasons by saying you might not come back.”

Indian news outlet, The Print also reported on the development in a May 14 story with the headline, “Canada denies visa to former Pakistani intel officials, says ex-envoy. Usual tactic by Western powers”.

The report quoted diplomatic sources as saying that “the denial of visas to people who are suspected of being involved in human rights violations is a practice which is followed by several western countries. They said there is no official blacklist or any formal notification or communication and these are decisions made by security agencies.”

Furthermore, Ontario-based law-focused e-newsletter and website Law Times also reported on a similar 2017 case of a “Pakistan citizen inadmissible to Canada because husband employed with Pakistan’s military”.

According to the case, a Pakistani citizen had applied for permanent residence in Canada as an investor but her application was denied because her spouse, a former lieutenant colonel in the Pakistan Army was deemed inadmissible due to “reasonable grounds to believe he was complicit in crimes against humanity”.

The citizen had sought judicial review of the decision, but the application was dismissed. The immigration officer’s decision was deemed reasonable, citing credible admissions by the spouse and concluding that the evidence supported the belief that the spouse participated in human rights abuses.

FACT-CHECK STATUS: MISLEADING

The claim regarding the restrictions on military personnel for Canadian visas is misleading.

The development is not a new or recent one as per the impression given by the X post through the use of “big news” and the stay on visas for military personnel has been in effect since at least 2007.

The absence of this vital context with the addition of “big news” can mislead the public since it might lead the people to think that it is a new occurrence which is related to Pakistan’s ongoing domestic political situation instead of a general policy of the Canadian government which it seems to be.