Hvem er slakke med kontrollen av pakistanske studenter som søker seg til Storbritannia? Britiske myndigheter eller pakistanske? Den pakistanske høykommissæren, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, spilte fornærmet over antydninger om at Pakistan kunne gjort mer. Det er britene selv som burde gjøre mer, og Pakistan har tilbudt hjelp, men får ikke lov, hevdet han.
Det reagerte innvandringsminister Phil Woolas sterkt på.
Mr Woolas insisted today foreign national students were checked against watchlists of criminals and suspects from other countries.
«It’s naive to think that we don’t check, we do work very closely with the Pakistan authorities, indeed we’ve been criticised for doing so,» he said. «We do have these systems of checking these people to the best of our ability and we are acknowledged in international police circles as being one of the best in the world.»
The minister also warned that without the e-borders system there would be a «gaping chasm» rather than «loopholes», having previously admitted that fake colleges were the «biggest loophole» in the immigration system.
Men tallene viser at antallet studenter er høyt, at et stort antall av de såkalte college er falske, og at halvparten av pakistanerne bare forsvinner for myndighetene – i Storbritannia.
Chris Grayling, Shadow Home Secretary, called for the Government to «urgently step up» background checks on students coming to Britain from countries linked to terror.
«The Government admits that student visas are a major loophole in our border controls,» he said. «Given these latest revelations we need to urgently step up monitoring of applications from parts of the world where we face terror issues.»
More than 42,000 student visas were issued to Pakistani students between 2004 and 2007 but it was only from this year that applications were checked against an expanded set of watch lists, including police and immigration databases.
In 2007-8, there were 9,544 student visas given out to Pakistani nationals. 98 per cent of applications for extension of leave to remain in Britain were granted in 2006.
Further weaknesses in the system were also exposed three years ago, when officers in Pakistan said that government targets meant it was «hit and miss» whether or not they spotted forged documents. In the same year, the British High Commission in Pakistan told the Home Affairs Select Committee they believed that about half the students to whom they granted visas disappeared after reaching Britain