India recently denied visas to scholars from Pakistan for attending a conference organised by the Association for Asian Studies and Ashoka University in New Delhi.Thankfully, the organisers of the conference protested vehemently against this behaviour and passed a memorandum that no country that denies visas to the scholars based on their ethnicity shall ever be the host for future conferences. This step taken by the organisers is indeed appreciable. Moreover, we Pakistanis must ensure that no such incident ever happen here. All academics should ensure that all the guests from India for academic purposes must get a visa.India is certainly not the first country that has denied visas to the scholars purely on the grounds of prejudice. Several first world countries and the emerging economies have done the same in the past. Ejura Attah, a barrister and academic from Nigeria, when applied for a visa to speak at a renowned international African studies conference held at Cambridge University in September 2017, was denied entry to the UK. Upon investigation, the organisers found that Ejura was not the only academic who was invited to the conference but was denied a visa for the UK.Similarly, Zia Hussain Syed — a postgraduate student at the University of Chicago, US, was stopped from boarding a plane in 2017 as his entry back to the US as a Fulbright scholar was blocked when he visited Pakistan. He was denied entry to the US although he had a valid visa at that time. New Zealand too denied entry to North Korean academics in 2017 when the US was desperately trying to isolate North Korea internationally. India is certainly not the first country that has denied visas to scholars purely on the grounds of prejudice. Several first world countries and emerging economies have done the same in the pastIndia too has been a victim of visa denial to its academics. In 2016, an aerospace engineer from IIT Kanpur, Ananth SM, was denied the Australian visa due to the suspicion that he was associated with the proliferation of WMDs.The response from Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection not only derailed his academic career but also tarnished his image forever.Similarly, two Taiwanese academics were denied a visa by Hong Kong authorities back in 2017. They were invited to attend a conference on ‘Colonisation of Hong Kong’ by the Hong Kong Federation of Students.One may call this denial of visas to the academics an alternative way of censorship. However, this censorship not only affects the victim but also the offensive country. If academics cannot mingle with each other without being judged on political grounds, the transaction of knowledge shall stop; this will ultimately affect the offensive country. After the AAS incident, many scholars might choose not to apply for a visa for attending a conference in India fearing that they might be subjected to the same embarrassment.Pakistan needs to learn from such incidents. The Pakistani authorities should stand up for its citizens and how they are being treated by different countries when they travel for academic purposes.The lack of intervention from the Pakistani authorities only proves that either they too are convinced that the Pakistani citizens should be denied visas or they are too submissive. Unless Pakistan’s foreign ministry stops looking at its own citizens with suspicion, they shall never be able to help Pakistanis facing harassment or embarrassment at the hands of various border protection agencies of the world.There is also a space for an international body that assesses the suitability of a country as a possible venue for academic events. Countries that deny visas to academics or subject them to harassment or intimidation must be banned as possible venues for future conferences for several years once an incident is reported.The writer is an Assistant ProfessorPublished in Daily Times, July 12th 2018.