On Thursday, Pakistan emphatically stated that its ongoing operation against illegal immigrants is not directed at any specific nationality. During her weekly news briefing in Islamabad, Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch responded to inquiries, explaining that the ongoing action is aimed at repatriating individuals who have either overstayed their visas or lack the necessary documentation to remain in Pakistan.
Baloch emphasized that Pakistan is acting well within the confines of its sovereign domestic laws in this regard. Importantly, she made it clear that this operation is unrelated to the 1.4 million Afghan refugees whom Pakistan has generously hosted for decades, despite its own economic constraints. Pakistan’s national policy regarding Afghan refugees remains unchanged, and the safe and dignified repatriation of these refugees is a separate matter, with Pakistan engaging with Afghanistan to create a conducive environment for their return.
In response to media reports suggesting that Pakistan has suspended transit trade with Afghanistan, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch refuted these claims. She clarified that bilateral trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan continues but stressed that Pakistan will not tolerate the misuse of existing trade facilities. Any measures taken, whether recently or in the future, will be in accordance with this understanding.
Regarding concerns about the use of Afghan territory for terrorism, Baloch emphasized that Pakistan has clearly expressed its concerns. While Pakistan believes in diplomacy and dialogue, it remains engaged with Kabul in the fight against this threat.
In response to a question about international media reports on India’s anti-Pakistan propaganda, the spokesperson pointed out that there is undeniable evidence of India’s involvement in terrorist activities within Pakistan. She noted that India continues to baselessly blame Pakistan for these actions. Regarding the security of the Pakistani cricket team in India for the ICC Cricket World Cup, Baloch stressed that it is the responsibility of the host country to provide foolproof security and a conducive environment for the team. Pakistan’s stance is that sports should remain separate from politics, and the team is in India for an international tournament, not a bilateral series.
Regarding delays in the issuance of visas by India to Pakistanis for the World Cup, Baloch stated that Pakistan is in contact with Indian authorities and expects immediate visa grants to Pakistani journalists and spectators who wish to attend ICC matches in India.
Addressing another question, the spokesperson mentioned that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has received formal communication from the Election Commission regarding the invitation of international observers for the upcoming general elections. Pakistan will facilitate the process in accordance with its policy and past practices.
Lastly, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch informed that a free trade agreement between Pakistan and the Gulf Cooperation Council has been concluded, marking the first such agreement by the Council with any country since 2009. She expressed Pakistan’s anticipation for the swift ratification and implementation of the agreement, which is expected to boost Pakistan’s exports to Gulf countries and enhance its economic relations with the GCC.