FM Qureshi asks Iraq to issue visas to Pakistani pilgrims


ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday expressed concern over the non-issuance of visas to Pakistani Zaireen (pilgrims) aspiring to visit Iraq.

In a meeting with Ambassador of Iraq Dr Ali Yassin Mohammed Karim, the foreign minister raised the matter of Zaireen facing difficulties in attending Arbaeen, the religious commemoration marking 40 days after the Ashura when Hazrat Imam Hussain (AS) was martyred in the battle of Karbala.

FM Qureshi said since Arbaeen was only 10 days away, a number of Zaireen who had to travel by road would not be able to attend the religious event owing to the inordinate delay.

He stressed urgent streamlining of the visa procedures and their placement at the embassy’s website along with the list of authorised travel agents for the convenience of the visa applicants. He assured the Iraqi ambassador of his government’s full support in ensuring the return of Zaireen.

The Iraqi ambassador assured the foreign minister of maximum cooperation from the Iraqi side for the issuance of visas in time and in a transparent manner. He said the backlog of visa applications for Arbaeen would be cleared within the next few days.

It was also decided that a meeting of 12 registered tourist companies would be convened Friday afternoon at the Iraqi embassy in the presence of additional secretary (Middle East) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to identify, discuss and resolve the visa problems of the Zaireen.