Shah Mehmood Qureshi speaks during an event in Dubai on Saturday.
Jamil Khan, Senior Reporter
Pakistan Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi has categorically denied any ‘backdoor diplomacy’ between Pakistan and India while lauding the role of the UAE leadership for 50 years of brotherly relationship with Pakistan.
Addressing a press conference at the Pakistan Consulate in Dubai on Sunday, Qureshi said, "There is no official backdoor diplomatic coordination between Pakistan and India and there is no need. But we have coordination on the intelligence level which is a routine matter between countries. We are two atomic powers and we should sit at the negotiating table.”
According to local media reports, the Pakistan Foreign Minister and his Indian counterpart, Minister for External Affairs S. Jaishankar, are expected to meet in Abu Dhabi on Monday at the behest of the UAE government to strengthen their relationship.
The Pakistani Foreign Minister further said that they were coordinating at the intelligence level and always maintained links even in times of conflict.
"We (Pakistan and India) have outstanding issues like Kashmir, Sir Creek, Siachen, water and other issues pending for a long time. We should sit at the table without any hesitation. There is no appropriate way other than dialogue and keeping peace but before this you (India) should give the due rights to Kashmir people and maintain their rights before Aug.5 status,” he said.
Responding to a question, the minister said that there were some visa issues for Pakistan in the UAE but they were aware of this and some solutions would be resolved soon. Family visas, however, have been eased.
He also said that the overseas Pakistanis were helping Pakistan through remittances and "we are considering them our high value asset. "There were some complaints of expatriates in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries and we were in talks with local authorities to seek resolutions through coordination,” he said.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi with members of the Pakistan Business Council in Dubai.
Responding to a question on the removal of US troops from Afghanistan and the situation prevailing after this especially regarding Afghan immigrants in Pakistan, the minister said that currently there are 3 million Afghans settled in Pakistan and only the government with its own resources is helping them live peacefully. "There is no foreign help in this regard as only the government of Pakistan for the last 40 years is bearing the cost of keeping these immigrants.
There are many Afghans who want to return to their country and we are also helping in this regard without any foreign support,” he added.
The minister said that the current government has foiled many foreign plans to keep Pakistan isolated. "Our relationship with US, European countries as well as other nations are in good stead due to our balanced policies as one can notice that our Premier and other high-level delegates met different world leaders on various important occasions,” he added.
However, the minister pointed that that Pakistan and UAE are completing 50 years of their strong, brotherly relations. "To celebrate the Golden Jubilee anniversary of Pak-UAE relationship, we will organise a series of events to celebrate this auspicious occasion with the participation of the community. I will personally request PM Imran Khan to come here and attend the huge event which will be held in Sharjah to highlight the role of the community residing in the UAE,” he said.
He also said that they were ready to give voting rights to expatriates as coordination with other political parties are in progress. "We want our overseas community members to be part of policy-making and development of the country through their voice."
He categorically denied meeting his Indian counterpart in Abu Dhabi but confirmed a telephonic talk with the Afghan foreign minister during the UAE visit. "The peace process in Afghanistan has started and many countries are playing their role in this regard. Soon there will be a conference in Turkey and we are happy to see Taliban and Afghan government officials participating in this with our role as a mediator,” he said.
He also said that the Iranian foreign minister also recently visited Pakistan four times as Iran is our important brotherly neighbour country. "Iran is also the neighbour of Afghanistan and they have interest in the peace process in Afghanistan and in this process Pakistan will play its vital role in bringing all stakeholders on the same page,” the minister said.
Qureshi also spoke on various issues like the vaccination programme in Pakistan and said that they were thankful to the Chinese government for providing COVID-19 vaccines. Soon the programme to vaccinate the general public would be rolled out.
"The pandemic has heaped economic difficulties on the whole world. We with our limited resources tried to save public lives as well as their jobs. In the first phase, the frontline workers have been vaccinated and soon the programme to vaccinate the public will be started. There are people who are paying for COVID-19 jabs as it is up to them to vaccinate privately but the government will provide vaccine jabs free of cost to its citizens,” he added.
However, Qureshi lauded the efforts of the Pakistani community in the UAE for their role in the development and strengthening of relations between the two countries.
The minister, along with Ambassador Afzaal Mahmood, Consul General Ahmed Amjad Ali and others also visited the Pakistan Pavilion at Expo 2020.
"Our participation in the Expo starting from October this year is the reflection of the strong relationship between the two countries. Pakistan will participate with full strength to benefit from this global event to increase its economic targets," he said.
Earlier, he attended a dinner hosted by the Pakistan Business Council in Dubai where he appreciated the role of the Pakistani business community.
The newly appointed Pakistan Ambassador to the UAE, Afzaal Mahmood, recently visited the Pakistan Association Dubai (PAD), a community centre with multiple facilities, and appreciated the community for their support in the construction and running of modern facilities in Dubai.
Many Pakistani expats are shelving their travel plans as uncertainty prevails over suspension of Pak-UAE flights due to pandemic. Similarly, Pakistanis stuck back home are worried about their jobs and have requested the authorities concerned to lift the travel ban as soon as possible.
Dr Salem Al Khaddeim Al Dhanhani explained that the visa centre, one of the largest in Asia, will provide distinguished consular services in line with the latest international standards. Governor of Sindh expressed his thanks for the efforts made by the UAE to promote bilateral ties.
Residents and passersby said the Israeli border police officer had a scuffle with a Palestinian, purportedly in an attempt to arrest him.
"If we do not head towards elections there won't be stability in the country," he warned, adding that the coalition government is not ready to talk about snap polls because they are scared of the results.
As part of the agreement, Lulu Group will procure 15,000 tonnes of fresh fruits and vegetables from Elite Agro over the next year, which will be promoted and sold through all Lulu Hypermarkets in the UAE.