ISLAMABAD - Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Syed Muhammad Ali Hussaini and Iraqi Ambassador Hamid Abbas Lufta on Monday assured Federal Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Sajid Hussain Turi that both the countries will facilitate the Pakistani pilgrims.

Bilateral relations, trade and cultural cooperation, human resources and matters of mutual interests were also discussed during the separate meetings.

Various issues including the welfare of Pakistanis in Iran and Iraq and the release of imprisoned Pakistanis were also discussed in the meetings.

In separate meeting, Iranian Ambassador Syed Mohammad Ali Hussaini expressed good wishes to Sajid Hussain Turi on assuming the charge of federal minister and extended a warm welcome to him upon his arrival at the embassy.

Talking to the Iranian ambassador, Sajid Turi said that historical, spiritual, brotherly and cultural ties between Iran and Pakistan are deep and eternal.

He said that Pakistan and its people highly value relations with Iran. He expressed that Pakistan-Iran bilateral relations, especially trade and economic relations, need to be further enhanced and strengthened.

The minister said that millions of Zaireen (pilgrims) visit Iran and Iraq on Arbaeen to pay homage to Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) but are facing various problems in getting their visas.

He called on the Iranian envoy to grant double entry visa to Pakistani pilgrims so that they can easily enter Iran on their return from Iraq. The Iranian ambassador said that all pilgrims who have Iraqi visas will be given Iranian visas so that they do not face any problem at the Iran-Iraq border.

Sajid Turi said that most of the poor people go to Mashhad and Karbala by land routes for which Mehran and other Pak-Iran borders should be opened. He also demanded entry of Pakistani buses.

Syed Muhammad Ali Hosseini said that caravans of Pakistani pilgrims are being given entry at Mehran border and other borders also. He said that for the service of pilgrims, inns with all facilities have been established on land routes where they can stay overnight also.

Sajid Turi also raised release of Pakistanis prisoners in Iran sentenced for minor crimes, to which Iranian Ambassador said that Pakistanis involved in minor crimes will be released soon.

Envoys discuss welfare of Pakistanis in Iran, Iraq with Sajid Turi

The minister assured the Iranian envoy that strict action will be taken against the agents who are involved in human trafficking and illegally taking Pakistanis to Iran.

In his separate meeting with Ambassador of Iraq Hamid Abbas, the minister said that there is a strong historical, spiritual and cultural relationship between Iraq and Pakistan and Pakistan values this brotherly relationship.

He said that thanks to Allah Almighty that peace has been restored in Iraq and now it is on the path of rapid development and progress. He said that every year millions of Pakistanis go to Iraq for the pilgrimage of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) on Arbaeen and we are trying our best to minimise their difficulties.

Turi called on the Iraqi ambassador to lift ban on issuing visas to Pakistanis under the age of forty because many of them are being deprived of the privilege of pilgrimage. He said that it will be responsibility of Salar to bring back as many pilgrims as he takes.

Sajid Turi assured the ambassador that strict legal action will be taken against the people who go illegally and the agents who take them. He expressed the desire that the two countries can create opportunities for Pakistanis to work legally in Iraq.

He said that his ministry, along with the Pakistani ministry of foreign affairs and religious affairs, is preparing a comprehensive Ziaraat Policy to facilitate Zaireen and prevent those who go to Iraq illegally. He said that until a comprehensive policy is formulated, relaxation should be given in issuing visas to pilgrims for Arbaeen.

The minister also demanded that Pakistanis imprisoned in Iraqi jails for minor crimes should be released soon so that they can return to their homes.

Iraqi Ambassador expressed good wishes for Sajid Turi and said that Iraq and its people are proud of their relation with Pakistan and Iraqi people consider Pakistan as their second home. He said that Pakistan and Iraq have been very good friends since the beginning and will always be.

The Iraqi envoy informed the minister that Iraqi visas have been issued to 25,000 Pakistanis to go for Arbaeen so far this year and more visas will be issued until Arbaeen.

The envoy invited Sajid Turi to visit Iraq which he accepted and thanked him. He said that after Arbaeen he will visit Iraq where he will discuss with the Iraqi authorities to strengthen bilateral relations and enhance cooperation in various fields.