ISLAMABAD – Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Syed Muhammad Ali Hussaini and Iraqi Ambassador Hamid Abbas Lufta assured Federal Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resources Development Sajid Hussain Turi on Monday that the two countries would facilitate Pakistani pilgrims .
Bilateral relations, trade and cultural cooperation, human resources and issues of mutual interest were also discussed in separate meetings.
Various issues including the welfare of Pakistanis in Iran and Iraq and the release of imprisoned Pakistanis were also discussed at the meetings.
In a separate meeting, Iranian Ambassador Syed Mohammad Ali Hussaini expressed his best wishes to Sajid Hussain Turi to assume the office of Federal Minister and welcomed him upon his arrival at the Embassy.
Addressing the Iranian Ambassador, Sajid Turi said the historical, spiritual, brotherly and cultural ties between Iran and Pakistan are deep and timeless.
He said Pakistan and its people attach great importance to relations with Iran. He said bilateral relations between Pakistan and Iran, especially trade and economic relations, should be further improved and strengthened.
The minister said that millions of Zairians (pilgrims) travel to Iran and Iraq on Arbaeen to pay their respects to Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) but face various problems in obtaining their visas.
He called on the Iranian envoy to grant a double entry visa to Pakistani pilgrims so that they can easily enter Iran upon their return from Iraq. The Iranian ambassador said that all pilgrims who have Iraqi visas will receive Iranian visas so that they do not encounter any problems at the Iran-Iraq border.
Sajid Turi said most of the poor travel to Mashhad and Karbala through land routes for which Mehran and other Pak-Iran borders should be opened. He also demanded the entry of Pakistani buses.
Syed Muhammad Ali Hosseini said Pakistani pilgrim caravans are allowed to enter Mehran border and other borders as well. He said that for the service of pilgrims, hostels with all amenities have been established on the land routes where they can also spend the night.
Sajid Turi also spoke about the release of Pakistani prisoners in Iran convicted of petty crimes, to which the Iranian Ambassador said that Pakistanis implicated in petty crimes would soon be released.
Envoys discuss welfare of Pakistanis in Iran and Iraq with Sajid Turi
The minister assured the Iranian envoy that strict measures would be taken against agents involved in human trafficking and illegally taking Pakistanis to Iran.
During his separate meeting with Iraqi Ambassador Hamid Abbas, the Minister said that there is a strong historical, spiritual and cultural relationship between Iraq and Pakistan and that Pakistan appreciates this brotherly relationship.
He said that thanks to Almighty Allah, peace has been restored in Iraq and it is now on the path of rapid development and progress. He said that every year millions of Pakistanis travel to Iraq for Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) pilgrimage on Arbaeen and we are doing our best to minimize their hardship.
Turi called on the Iraqi ambassador to lift the ban on issuing visas to Pakistanis under the age of forty, as many of them are deprived of the privilege of pilgrimage. He said it will be Salar’s responsibility to bring back as many pilgrims as he takes.
Sajid Turi assured the Ambassador that strict legal action will be taken against those who leave illegally and the officers who take them away. He expressed the wish that the two countries could create opportunities for Pakistanis to work legally in Iraq.
He said that his ministry, together with the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Religious Affairs, is preparing a comprehensive Ziaraat policy to facilitate Zairean and prevent those who travel illegally to Iraq. He said that until a comprehensive policy is formulated, relaxation should be given to issuing visas to pilgrims for Arbaeen.
The minister also called for Pakistanis imprisoned in Iraqi prisons for minor offenses to be released quickly so that they can return home.
The Iraqi Ambassador expressed his best wishes to Sajid Turi and said that Iraq and its people are proud of their relationship with Pakistan and that the Iraqi people regard Pakistan as their second homeland. He said that Pakistan and Iraq were very good friends from the beginning and always will be.
The Iraqi envoy informed the minister that Iraqi visas have been issued to 25,000 Pakistanis to travel to Arbaeen so far this year and further visas will be issued as far as Arbaeen.
The envoy invited Sajid Turi to visit Iraq, which he accepted and thanked him. He said that after Arbaeen, he will visit Iraq where he will discuss with the Iraqi authorities to strengthen bilateral relations and strengthen cooperation in various fields.