UAE is home to an estimated 1.6 million Pakistanis and is a key source of foreign remittances for Pakistan’s economy.
Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistan’s foreign minister has raised the issue of visa restrictions on Pakistani nationals imposed by the United Arab Emirates in meetings with top Emirati officials over a three-day tour of the country, Pakistan’s foreign ministry says.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi concluded his three-day visit to the United Arab Emirates, a key Pakistani ally, on Tuesday, after meeting with Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the foreign ministry said.
“[Qureshi] emphasised the need for nurturing and strengthening people-to-people linkages, as well as removing impediments that hamper travel between the two countries,” said a foreign ministry statement released on Tuesday.
The UAE is home to an estimated 1.6 million Pakistanis and is a key source of foreign remittances for the Pakistani economy.
Since November, the UAE has imposed a ban on work visas for citizens from 13 mostly Muslim countries, including Pakistan.
Qureshi also raised the issue in an earlier meeting with UAE Minister for Tolerance and Coexistence Sheikh Nahyan Mabarak Al Nahyan, the foreign ministry said.
“Thanking the UAE’s leadership for their considerate approach towards expatriates, the Foreign Minister briefed Sheikh Nahyan about the issues faced by the Pakistani community, in particular the restrictions on visa-related matters,” a statement said.
The issue was also discussed in Qureshi’s meeting with the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ahmed bin Ali Al Sayegh, according to a Pakistani statement.
Statements issued by the UAE government did not make mention of the issue of visa restrictions.
On Sunday, UAE Foreign Minister Al Nahyan met with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in Abu Dhabi, prompting speculation that the foreign ministers of Pakistan and India could hold a direct meeting.
This month, a senior UAE diplomat confirmed that his country was helping to mediate between the South Asian neighbours, whose diplomatic ties have been virtually frozen since a 2019 military standoff over the disputed region of Kashmir.
Qureshi, however, dismissed reports of a possible meeting between the two top diplomats in an interview with the Gulf-based Khaleej Times newspaper.
Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera’s digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim.