Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi highlighted on Saturday the difficulties faced by Pakistani residents with respect to visas for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a meeting with Emirati Minister of State Reem Al Hashimi.
According to a statement issued by the Foreign Office (FO), Qureshi stressed the need to resolve this issue as soon as possible during the meeting held on the sidelines of the 47th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Niamey, Niger.
Last week the FO announced that the UAE had suspended the issuance of visas to Pakistani citizens, among others, noting that the move seemed to be due to the coronavirus pandemic, but that it was seeking more clarification from the Emirati authorities.
During today’s meeting with Hashimi, Qureshi also highlighted the strong fraternal relations and people-to-people contacts between the two countries and stressed Pakistan’s determination to forge closer cooperation with the UAE in a variety of fields, FO said.
“During the meeting, the two sides exchanged views on bilateral cooperation, the Covid-19 situation, Pakistan’s participation in the expo, and other matters of mutual interest.”
Appreciating Qureshi’s comment at the CFM, the Emirati Minister praised Pakistan’s proposal to propose an OIC resolution on the war against Islamophobia.
The two sides also shared views on OIC issues and emphasised the importance of further enhancing the institution as a cohesive and pivotal voice for the Muslim Ummah, the statement said.
It also agreed to strengthen reciprocal exchanges in order to follow the mechanism of increasing bilateral cooperation, it concluded.
UAE suspends visas
Last week the FO reported that the UAE had briefly halted the issuance of visas to a dozen countries including Pakistan, until further notice.
At the time, the FO claimed that the decision of the UAE authorities was “believed to be related to the second wave of Covid-19″ but added that it had approached the UAE to request more clarification. The FO had however, made it known that the suspension would not extend to those still with valid visas.
Days later, a study reported that the UAE had briefly suspended visas owing to security issues. A private source did not specify what these issues were, but said that the visa ban was intended to continue for a brief period of time.
Following the article, the FO denied that there were security issues that contributed to such a measure, although this time it said that changes to the UAE visa programme had not been verified.
Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Pakistani Prime Minister of Overseas Zulfiqar Bukhari on Thursday refuted UAE claims suspending work visas to Pakistanis, adding that there was no ban on export of Pakistani workforce”
Bukhari said that in contrast to media claims,” the UAE Minister for Human Resources and Emiratization Nasser bin Thani Al Hamli claimed categorically that there is no ban on the export of Pakistani labour.”
Moreover the UAE gave preference to those employees who were enrolled in the Virtual Labor Market Database and who had been laid off due to the economic downturn caused by Covid-19, Bukhari said.
The Prime Minister’s aide added that there has been an 11 per cent rise in Pakistani information staff in the UAE. The Arab state also encouraged applicants for a 10-year golden visa, Bukhari said.