ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly was informed on Monday that 3,000 out of total 8,000 Pakistanis in Libya have been evacuated and efforts are underway to retrieve all Pakistani citizens from there.
Answering a question, Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said that the Pakistani embassy is in contact with the Pakistani citizens amidst the worsening law and order situation in Libya and transport facilities will be provided to bring them back to Pakistan. Most foreign countries closed their embassies and consulates in Libya but the Pakistani embassy and its staff are present to facilitate stranded Pakistani citizens, assuring their work will continue till the last citizen is evacuated.
The NA was also informed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that according to office record, 168 Pakistani fishermen at present are detained in Indian jails. The government is cognisant of the matter and has consistently raised repatriation issue of all Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails. It is a humanitarian issue and remains high on the priority list of the ministry.
The ministry has taken several steps in order to have the fishermen released, including recently, India had released 21 Pakistani prisoners including 18 fishermen on April 16 2014. The High Commission of Pakistan, New Delhi provides legal assistance that includes arranging lawyers and fines payment.
As soon as Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs receives information regarding Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails, the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi is asked to approach the concerned Indian authorities for consular access provision. After meeting the prisoner in jail, the Ministry of Interior is requested to confirm the national status of the prisoner. Upon national status confirmation the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi issues travel documents and approaches the Indian authorities for the prisoners’ early release and repatriation.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs replying to another question, said that improving relations with India is a priority of the government, and it seeks resumption of dialogue process aimed at resolution of all outstanding disputes including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir. During the first half of the year, progress in bilateral ties was slow due to Indian general elections. Now that the new Indian government assumed power, Pakistan is looking forward to an increased momentum of our efforts towards normalisation of relations.
To another question, the legislators were informed that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy special relations that are based on common faith and history. The two countries share common perceptions on regional and international issues of mutual interest. Both countries attach great significance to strategic relations that have continued to gain in strength and the bilateral relationship with Saudi Arabia is marked by a high degree of trust and brotherhood.
The minister of foreign affairs said that the regular exchange of high-level visits is a hallmark of this relationship that Saudi Arabia has provided financial support to Pakistan on numerous occasions, particularly during its economic crises. Another indicator of Pakistan’s importance to Saudi Arabia is the fact that it is a home to the largest number of Pakistani expatriates, approximately one and a half million. Saudi-based Pakistanis are a large source of foreign remittances to the local economy.
The healthy Saudi-Pakistan trade relations have a good potential for increasing quantum of bilateral trade. While the bulk of our imports consist of POL products, exports mainly confined to textile and food items with a low share of manufactured products. The balance of trade is in favour of Saudi Arabia due to oil imports, worth over $ 3.4 billion per year from Saudi Arabia
Pakistan maintains decades-old close military ties with Saudi Arabia, providing extensive support, arms and training for the armed forces of Saudi Arabia. Regular port calls by our naval vessels and high-level defence visits are another feature of the relationship. At present, over 1,100 defence deputations serve at present in the Kingdom. A large number of Saudi personnel continue to avail courses in Pakistan.
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