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Pakistan Urges India for World Cup Visas and FTA Talks

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Pakistan’s Foreign Office has reached out to Indian authorities, urging them to issue visas to Pakistani spectators and journalists who wish to attend the upcoming International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup. This appeal comes as Pakistan prepares to participate in the international cricket series, and the Foreign Office emphasizes that this visit is not part of a bilateral cricket series, but a global event. The Foreign Office Spokesperson, Mumtaz Zahra Balochi, highlighted the host country’s responsibility to provide security and a conducive environment for the Pakistan cricket team while emphasizing the importance of keeping sports separate from politics.

In an official statement released on Thursday, the Foreign Office of Pakistan has called upon Indian authorities to grant visas to Pakistani spectators and journalists planning to attend the highly anticipated International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup. The move comes as Pakistan’s cricket team prepares to participate in this prestigious global event, and the Pakistani government emphasizes that this visit is not part of a bilateral cricket series but a crucial international tournament.

During her weekly news briefing, Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Balochi underscored Pakistan’s legitimate right to participate in international cricket competitions. She stressed that the responsibility for providing adequate security and a conducive environment for the Pakistan cricket team lies with the host country, in this case, India. Balochi also urged that sports should remain untainted by political considerations, highlighting the importance of separating the two realms.

In response to queries from the media, Balochi confirmed that the foreign ministry had received a formal communication from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) regarding the invitation to international election observers. She assured that the process would be carried out in accordance with established policies and past practices.

Shifting the focus to trade relations, Balochi disclosed that Pakistan and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) had successfully concluded negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). This marks a significant milestone as it is the first such agreement the GCC has entered into with any country since 2009. She expressed optimism about the swift signing, ratification, and implementation of the FTA, anticipating that it would lead to enhanced economic cooperation and mutual prosperity between Pakistan and the GCC, opening a new chapter in their economic relations.

Addressing Pakistan’s stance on the Palestine issue, Balochi reiterated the country’s firm support for the two-state solution, based on the pre-1967 borders. She emphasized Pakistan’s commitment to resolving the longstanding conflict in a manner that respects the rights and aspirations of all parties involved.

Furthermore, in her role as the coordinator of the Geneva-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Group, Pakistan co-organized an event alongside the OIC Observer Mission in Geneva. The event, titled ‘Mapping the Efficacy of Normative Framework on Religious Discrimination, Intolerance, and Hatred,’ aimed to raise awareness about the escalating problem of religious discrimination, intolerance, and hatred. It stressed the urgent need to strengthen the normative framework to address these issues from a human rights perspective.

Finally, the Foreign Office Spokesperson raised concerns about the ongoing human rights violations in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). She reported that in September alone, Indian forces had been responsible for the extrajudicial killing of 13 Kashmiris and the arrest of 157 civilians and activists. Many of those detained were charged under oppressive laws such as the Public Safety Act (PSA) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Balochi called for an end to such repressive measures and human rights abuses, urging the release of Kashmiri leaders to allow the local population to freely exercise their right to self-determination.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office has made a compelling plea to India to facilitate the issuance of visas for Pakistani attendees and journalists for the upcoming ICC World Cup. This development underscores the importance of separating sports from politics and ensuring a conducive environment for international sporting events. Additionally, Pakistan’s successful conclusion of negotiations with the GCC for a Free Trade Agreement represents a significant economic milestone. Pakistan’s stance on the Palestine issue, its efforts to combat religious discrimination, and its ongoing concerns about human rights violations in IIOJK were also addressed in this comprehensive briefing.

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