Ottawa, 29 November 2022 (TDI): The government of Canada unveiled its long-awaited Indo-Pacific strategy. According to this, more military spending and visa expansion will be given to countries such as Pakistan.

The strategy pledges $2.3 billion from Canada to form closer ties with countries that span Pakistan to Japan, including some funding that the Liberal government has announced in recent weeks.

Read more: Pakistan, Canada to further enhance ties

In this vein, Foreign Affairs Minister of Canada, Mélanie Joly stated, “What is evident today is a reorientation of our foreign policy (that) we haven’t seen in a long time.”

“It sends a clear message to the region that Canada is here, and they can trust that we’re here to stay.” She reiterated.

The strategy was announced to increase Canada’s visa-processing capacity to improve a system plagued by delays. That includes visa offices in Islamabad, Pakistan as well as New Delhi and Chandigarh, and Manila, Philippines.

Ottawa will also send 200 experts to advise countries that want to work with Canada on everything from governance to ocean management and the transition off of fossil fuels.

It is pertinent to note that this strategy entails the reopening of Canada’s visa office in Islamabad after a period of 10 years.

Canada’s Visa office for Pakistan

Canada had shut down its visa office in Pakistan and moved it to Abu Dhabi due to the poor security situation back then. Pakistan has long asked Canada to review its decision of moving its visa center to Abu Dhabi as applicants suffered due to the shifting of the office.

In 2019, then Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Canada, Raza Bashir Tarar urged the Canadian government to move the visa processing center back to its high commission in Islamabad.

He had said that the reopening of the visa office would enable Canadian immigration officials to ascertain the credentials of applications within Pakistan.

There is a huge diaspora of Pakistani nationals residing in Canada. Per the 2021 census, there are 41,705 Pakistanis residing within the actual city of Toronto. Additionally, 41,025 Pakistanis are residing in Mississauga, comprising 5.76% of the city’s population.

It is pertinent to note that Canada remains the fourth biggest destination for international students and every year, a humongous amount of Pakistanis apply for the student visa.