Salman Nouman (Twitter: @ImFilmmaker), a U.S. citizen based in Dubai, recently tried to apply for a student visa to attend film school in Bollywood, only to find that the Indian government does not permit naturalised U.S. citizens of Pakistani origin to apply for Indian visas on their U.S. passports. In an Outlook India article about his experience, he mentions the reaction of the U.S. government when he asked them for help dealing with his problem:
After working through the maze of departments within the DOS, I was finally routed to the American Citizen Services and India Desk. They asked me to email them the details, which I did, expecting a quick resolution. Surely the all-powerful Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton would get Consular Affairs to immediately ask India to not discriminate against US citizens based on their origin and treat all Americans uniformly for visa applications?
American Citizen Services told me that India has a right to deny my visa – to which I replied, of course, that that was not the problem. I would accept a denial on my US passport if I was put through the same process as any British, Irish, Italian, Arabic or other origin US citizen. As a US national, I wanted equality, and to be able to travel as a US national without my origin playing any part in that. It is the State Department’s job to ensure that US citizens are not discriminated against. And yet, they told me: “We cannot make India look at you as an American”.
Isn’t it great to see that US$1.20-per-American-abroad American Citizens Services budget is bringing us so many “great benefits of American citizenship”?
If Mr. Nouman’s story has a happy ending and he makes it to India with a visa in his Pakistani passport instead of his U.S. passport, he’ll find in fact that the U.S. has been putting out all efforts for more than three years to make India and every other country on earth look at him as an American. The U.S. is so intent on achieving this that they’re threatening (through FATCA’s provisions on gross proceeds withholding) to confiscate 30% of U.S. assets owned by residents of other countries if those countries don’t look at you as an American for tax & banking purposes — even if that violates their own laws, and even if you have another passport and emigrated from the U.S. long ago.
Mr. Nouman goes on to point out:
Punishing all Pakistan-origin people for one person’s crime resolves nothing except walling off India’s vibrant society from the world. Thousands of Pakistani-origin US nationals have visited India, without ever being accused or found guilty of harming India in any way. Yet those thousands of goodwill ambassadors are all seen as David Headleys.
Even those who renounce their Pakistan citizenship, or are born US citizens to Pakistani origin parents or even grandparents, have to undergo a different visa process than other US nationals and are rarely issued visas with durations that are reserved for US nationals. The US State Department has never stood publicly with half a million US nationals of Pakistani origin.
Of course, the U.S. is already well-known for its promotion of national origin discrimination against Americans abroad, so one more case shouldn’t be that surprising. Washington accedes to New Delhi’s collective punishment against people who emigrated from Pakistan, while New Delhi lays plans to accede to Washington’s collective punishment against people who emigrated from the United States.
On the bright side, as a U.S. citizen abroad, Mr. Nouman can still go back and forth to the U.S. as he pleases … unless of course they put him on the “no-fly list” as revenge for speaking out. Is one Pakistani American out of five hundred thousand a terrorist? Is one Overseas American out of seven million a tax evader? Well then, punish the whole lot of them! Out the window with Blackstone, we have a War on Terrorism & Money Laundering to fight!