A TOP Pakistani diplomat said yesterday he hoped Bahrain would soon ease the “visa restrictions and security measures” on his nationals.
This came as Bahraini Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa called his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi to wish him success in his new appointment, according to Pakistan’s Diplomatic News Agency (DNA).
Mr Qureshi, who assumed office last Monday, congratulated Shaikh Khalid on Bahrain achieving the Tier 1 status in the latest US State Department report on Combating Trafficking in Persons.
He also expressed gratitude for His Majesty King Hamad’s gift of King Hamad University in Islamabad, saying it would serve as a strong bridge of friendship between Pakistan and Bahrain.
He thanked Shaikh Khalid for hosting more than 100,000 Pakistani workers in Bahrain.
“Pledging unwavering support to the government of Bahrain in ensuring peace and security of its citizens, he (Mr Qureshi) expressed the hope that visa restrictions and strict security measures against Pakistanis living in the kingdom would be eased in order to help them live with dignity and honour,” reported DNA.
Mr Qureshi’s statement comes amidst rising concerns among Pakistani residents in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia who claim they are facing a ban on entering Bahrain.
The GDN reported on August 24 that many Pakistanis claimed they were denied entry into Bahrain at King Fahad Causeway during the Eid Al Adha holidays.
This came subsequent to Pakistan Embassy head of chancery and charge d’affaires Murad Wazir on August 20 dismissing the allegations – for the second time this year – that a ban had been imposed on Pakistani nationals trying to enter Bahrain. Earlier, on July 12, the GDN quoted Mr Wazir as denying reports of a temporary ban on Pakistani nationals.
However, well-placed sources said the clamp was in response to the discovery of allegedly forged Pakistani passports.
Pakistani diplomats in Bahrain could not be reached for comments yesterday, but residents on social media platforms welcomed Mr Qureshi’s statement, calling it “good news for Pakistanis in Bahrain”.
The DNA also quoted Mr Qureshi as saying the two nations agreed to “interact more closely to reinvigorate economic, commercial, trade and investment relations for boosting the current level of bilateral trade volume of $310 million”.
“The two foreign ministers also agreed to revive institutional mechanisms of joint ministerial commission and bilateral political consultations between the two countries,” it added.
According to Bahrain News Agency (BNA), Shaikh Khalid warmly reciprocated the sentiments, underlining the importance attached by Pakistan to its relations with Bahrain.
“Shaikh Khalid stressed the deep-rooted historical bilateral relations and growing co-operation between the two brotherly countries, underlining the role of Pakistan as an important and stabilising country in the region,” it said.
“He stressed Bahrain’s keenness to support these relations and to continue joint co-operation between both countries to achieve common aspirations,” adding that he looked forward to the second meeting of the Joint Bahraini-Pakistani Ministerial Committee to be held in Bahrain next year.
The diplomats also exchanged views on the latest regional and international developments and issues of mutual interest.