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Not only Afghan refugees, action to be taken against all illegal immigrants: FO

People arriving from Afghanistan gather at the Friendship Gate crossing point in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border town of Chaman, Pakistan August 27, 2021. — Reuters
  • FO says operation against those who overstayed their visas. 
  • Action nothing to do with Afghans that Pakistan had been hosting. 
  • Pakistan to keep ensuring Afghan soil not used to foment terrorism. 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday clarified that the decision to deport illegal residents was not specifically targeted at the Afghan refugees but against all immigrants residing in the country illegally without valid visa documents.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch at a weekly press briefing said the national policy towards the Afghan refugees in the country “remained unchanged” and their safe repatriation was a separate issue.

The spokesperson said the ongoing operation was against the individuals who had either overstayed their visas or did not have the valid documents to stay.

Baloch clarified that the operation had nothing to do with the Afghan refugees that Pakistan had been hosting for several decades despite its economic constraints.

She confirmed that the bilateral trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan continued to take place, however, stressed that Pakistan would not accept the misuse of transit trade facilities.

Pakistan, she said, had been clearly articulating its concerns about the threats emanating from Afghanistan.

“We believe in diplomacy and will continue to engage with the Afghan authorities to ensure that the Afghan soil is not used to foment terrorism,” she said.

Baloch said Pakistan was in contact with the Indian authorities and urged them to issue visas to Pakistani spectators and journalists who wished to see the ICC (International Cricket Council) World Cup in India.

She said it was the responsibility of the host country to provide security and a conducive environment for the Pakistan cricket team and emphasized that sports should not be mixed with politics.

She said the Pakistan team was visiting India not for a bilateral cricket series, and thus had every right to participate in the international series.

To another question, the spokesperson said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had received the formal communication from the Election Commission to invite international observers for the upcoming general election. She said the process would be facilitated in accordance with the policy and past practice.

On Palestine, she said Pakistan’s policy was clear that it supported a two-state solution on the basis of pre-1967 borders.

FM China visit

The spokesperson outlined the engagements of Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani, who is currently in China at the special invitation of Foreign Minister Wang Yi for participation in the Third Trans-Himalaya Forum for International Cooperation being held in Tibet Autonomous Region.

She said the FM in his keynote address delivered today at the opening ceremony of the forum underscored Pakistan’s commitment to ecological balance and urged policy coordination and experience-sharing between countries in the region.

She said FM Jilani and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Forum and emphasised the positive trajectory of bilateral ties, they discussed various aspects of the Pakistan-China friendship and exchanged views on regional and global matters.

The two foreign ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and pledged to enhance high-level exchanges and strategic communication for continued cooperation, she said.

In Tibet, she said, FM Jilani met Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia, Sainbuyan Amarsaikha where the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to high-level exchanges, and enhance bilateral trade and investment.

Baloch said Pakistan and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) had concluded the negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the first such agreement concluded by the GCC with any country since 2009.

“We look forward to the early signing, ratification, and implementation of the agreement, which we believe will contribute to growth and mutual prosperity and mark a new chapter in economic relations between Pakistan and GCC,” she said.

In its capacity as the coordinator of the Geneva-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Group, she said, Pakistan co-organised with the OIC Observer Mission in Geneva an event titled ‘Mapping the efficacy of normative framework on religious discrimination, intolerance, and hatred’.

The event aimed to raise awareness of the growing phenomenon of religious discrimination, intolerance, and hatred and the need for strengthening the normative framework for its redressal from a human rights perspective, she said.

The FO spokesperson said the Indian forces continued to commit serious human rights violations in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

She said that in September, the Indian troops killed 13 Kashmiris in extra-judicial killings and arrested 157 civilians and activists. Those arrested were mostly booked under the draconian laws promulgated by the occupation authorities in IIOJK — Public Safety Act (PSA) and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

“Such oppressive measures and human rights violations must end and the Kashmiri leaders be set free so that the Kashmiri people can freely exercise their right to self-determination,” she said.

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