Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi met the Ambassador of Iraq, Dr. Ali Yassin Mohammed Karim at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today, and raised with him the issues faced by Pakistani Zaireen (pilgrims) in obtaining Iraqi visas for Arbaeen (Chehlum anniversary of) Imam Hussain (AS).
While appreciating the Iraqi government’s efforts in facilitating rising number of Zaireen from Pakistan, he expressed concern over the reports of a large number of Pakistanis still waiting for issuance of Iraqi visas while Arbaeen is only ten days away. Highlighting the inconvenience and disappointment faced by Ziareen, the Foreign Minister drew attention of the Ambassador to the fact that many of them travel by road and will not be able to perform ziarat (pilgrimage) (from Najaf to Karbala) this year due to inordinate delay.
The Foreign Minister flagged the need for urgent streamlining of the visa procedures and placing them on the Embassy’s website alongwith the list of authorized travel agents, for the convenience of visa applicants. He assured the Iraqi Ambassador of the full support and cooperation of the government of Pakistan in ensuring that all Zaireen return to Pakistan after performing Ziarat.
Dr. Ali Yassin Mohammed Karim assured the Foreign Minister of maximum cooperation and support of Embassy of Iraq in processing of all visa requests well within time and in a transparent manner. He also said that the backlog of visa applications for Arbaeen will be cleared within next few days, however, the applicants may ensure submission of complete applications.
It was also decided that a meeting of twelve registered tourist companies will be convened today at 1600 hrs in 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.