UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan
UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri on Sunday said that authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had assured Islamabad that visa restrictions imposed on Pakistan due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic were “temporary in nature”.

In a statement issued here, Mr Chaudhri said that during his recent visit to the UAE, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in his meetings with the Emirati leadership raised the issues of visa restrictions on Pakistan nationals and welfare of Pakistani diaspora in the UAE.

“Appreciating the contributions made by the Pakistani diaspora in the UAE, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was assured that the visa restrictions were temporary in nature and were imposed due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic,” said the FO spokesman while commenting on Mr Qureshi’s visit to the UAE last week.

The spokesperson referred to the statement made by UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, reaffirming the UAE’s appreciation of the 1.5 million-strong Pakistani community and their active contribution to the growth and prosperity of the country.

During his recent visit, Qureshi raised the issue with the UAE leadership

“Noting the interconnectivity of the peoples of the two friendly countries, the statement stresses the temporary nature of the recent restrictions imposed on the issuance of visas due to outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the spokesperson said.

Earlier, the state-run news agency Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) released a statement of the UAE foreign minister in which he said that Pakistan-UAE close ties had continued to strengthen over the past decades and they had been translated into multi-faceted cooperation, representing a unique case in Arab-Asian relations in the region.

The UAE minister in a statement issued on Saturday, following the conclusion of Mr Qureshi’s two-day visit, said that political relations between the UAE and Pakistan were based on a long history of joint action, trust and respect.

The mutual interests and visions of the two countries converged on issues of regional and international importance through principles of tolerance, inclusiveness and an agenda based on development to ensure peace and stability in the region, he said.

The UAE minister affirmed the depth of bilateral relations and recalled the keenness of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan on the relations during the early stages of establishment.

The discussion between the two ministers encompassed ways to enhance and strengthen joint cooperation in various fields, consistent with directives of the leadership of the two countries.

The two sides discussed challenges and repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic, economic and investment issues of mutual interest and prospects for further joint cooperation to achieve aspirations of the two friendly countries and people.

The two sides exchanged views on the latest developments in the region, and discussed regional and international issues of mutual concern and ways to coordinate responses on issues of interest.

The UAE foreign minister affirmed the depth of the distinguished relations between the two countries and showed keenness to enhance and develop further aspects of joint cooperation across all fields.

Appreciating the role of the Pakistani community in the UAE, he said that more than 1.5 million of the Pakistani diaspora enjoyed safety and stability there and praised their great role and active contribution towards the growth and prosperity of the country.

He noted that this reflected the interconnectivity of people of the two friendly countries, ‘stressing temporary nature of the recent restrictions imposed on the issuance of visas due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic’.

He recalled that Pakistan was among the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the UAE. The two friendly people and countries share strong historical ties that enhance prospects of their broad cooperation across all fields.

“The UAE and Pakistan enjoy close relations and historical ties across political, economic, cultural and social domains, established on solid foundations of mutual friendship and respect,” he remarked.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi during his last week’s visit to the UAE had discussed issues pertaining to welfare of Pakistani diaspora in the Emirates with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president and prime minister of the UAE, and the ruler of Dubai.

The visit took place a month after the UAE included Pakistan among 12 countries for whose nationals it had suspended visit visas.

Mr Qureshi, the FO said, reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to further strengthening and augmenting existing strong bilateral relations with the UAE.

Published in Dawn, December 21st, 2020

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