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Archive for Pakistan

Newsline: Sweden shuts down embassy in Pakistan

Sweden has announced closing its embassy in Pakistan indefinitely due to the prevailing “security situation” in the crisis-hit country’s capital. The embassy did not elaborate on the nature of the threat, but Pakistan’s political situation is getting worse amid growing tension between the government and the Supreme Court. (https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/world/sweden-shuts-down-embassy-in-pakistan-indefinitely-here-s-why/) Due to the current security situation in Islamabad, the Embassy of Sweden is closed to visitors. The Migration Section is not, at the moment, able to handle requests of any kind, a notice on the embassy’s website reads.

Newsline: Pakistan summons Iran ambassador over cross-border attack

The Foreign Office summoned the Iranian ambassador to lodge the formal protest over an attack on the Pakistani security forces from across the border in Balochistan in a rare move, suggesting friction between the two countries. The Foreign Office did not issue any official statement on the development but sources confirmed to The Express Tribune that the envoy was summoned to express “Pakistan’s grave concern over the terrorist attack from inside the Iranian territory in which four Pakistani security personnel embraced martyrdom.” The ambassador was conveyed Pakistan’s expectation that the government of Iran would swiftly bring the perpetrators of the terrorist attack to justice and to prevent recurrence of such incidents, according to a source. “Pakistan remains committed to work with Iran in combatting the common threat posed by the menace of terrorism,” the source maintained. (https://tribune.com.pk/story/2396794/iran-ambassador-summoned-over-cross-border-attack) According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement, four security personnel died in Chukab Sector of the Pakistan-Iran border. It is rare that Pakistan publically protested with Iran as usually it treads carefully despite incidents in the past. But the summoning of the Iranian ambassador coupled with a categorical statement by the Army suggested that Pakistan was running out of patience with the neighbouring country.

Newsline: After US, UK, Saudi and Australian embassies issue security alert in Pakistan’s Islamabad

After the United States and the United Kingdom, embassies of Saudi Arabia and Australia on Monday issued advisory to their citizens and government officials living in Pakistan’s Islamabad to “limit their movement and increase vigilance” amid the rising terror threat. Saudi Arabia has warned its nationals to “be cautious” and not step out except for emergency purposes. “Security of Islamabad has been placed at the highest level,” the advisory said. It has also asked Saudi residents in the city to contact the embassy and consulate in case of an emergency. Meanwhile, the Australian embassy has urged its people to reconsider their need to visit Pakistan. “Avoid non-essential travel. Do your research and check that your insurer will cover you. If you do travel, take extra precautions to protect yourself from security and health risks,” the Australian advisory read. (https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/world/after-us-uk-saudi-australia-issue-security-alert-for-citizens-in-pakistan-s-islamabad/ar-AA15GbTf) The development comes in connection with the suicide bombing which took place in Islamabad last week where one policeman and a taxi driver were killed.

Newsline: Pakistan Top Diplomat Says There’s a Bounty on His Head

Diplomatic tensions are high between old rivals India and Pakistan after a high-profile Pakistani diplomat said he received death threats from a member of India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) this week. Pakistan’s foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said in a Bloomberg interview that there’s a $240,000 reward issued by an Indian political worker to behead him. (https://www.vice.com/en/article/akepkb/bilawal-bhutto-zardari-narendra-modi-diplomacy-butcher-terrorism) The bounty is in response to his statement at the United Nations Security Council meeting last week where Bhutto-Zardari called Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi the “butcher of Gujarat,” referring to the deadly Hindu-Muslim riots in 2002 in the Indian state, while Modi was the chief minister. The bounty was first reported on by reporters in India’s Uttar Pradesh state, which is considered the heart of Hindu nationalism. Local BJP member Manupal Bansal said he will give a reward of $240,000 to anyone “who will behead minister Bilawal Bhutto.”

Newsline: US embassy warns of potential attack in Pakistan’s capital

The United States embassy in Islamabad has warned its staff of a possible attack on Americans at a top hotel as Pakistan’s capital is already on high alert two days after a suicide bombing. The US government has obtained information that “unknown individuals are possibly plotting to attack Americans at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad sometime during the holidays”, the embassy said in a security alert on Sunday.The advisory banned US embassy staff and other nationals from visiting the popular hotel over the Christmas holiday. The US mission also urged all personnel to refrain from non-essential travel in Islamabad during the holiday season. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/12/25/us-warns-of-potential-attack-on-top-hotel-in-pakistans-capital) The embassy directive followed a suicide bombing in a residential area of Islamabad on Friday, which killed a police officer and wounded 10 people.

Newsline: Pakistan has no plans to close embassy in Kabul

Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch says Pakistan has no plans to close its embassy in Kabul or withdraw its diplomats. (https://www.radio.gov.pk/03-12-2022/no-plan-to-close-embassy-from-kabul-foreign-office) Responding to a media query regarding attack on Pakistan Embassy in Kabul, she said the government is in contact with Afghan interim authorities and enhanced security measures are being taken to protect Pakistani diplomatic personnel and Missions in Afghanistan.

Newsline: Pakistan summons US ambassador

Pakistan on Saturday summoned the US envoy for an explanation after President Joe Biden described the South Asian country as “one of the most dangerous nations in the world” and questioned its nuclear weapons safety protocols. “I have discussed it with the prime minister, and we have summoned the ambassador of the United States… for an official demarche,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said during a press conference in Karachi. “I am surprised by the remarks of President Biden. I believe this is exactly the sort of misunderstanding that is created when there is lack of an engagement.” (https://news.yahoo.com/pakistan-summons-us-envoy-over-122447788.html) Biden made the apparently off-the-cuff remark late Thursday while talking about United States foreign policy during a private Democratic Party fundraiser in California, but the White House later published a transcript of his comments, sparking outrage in Pakistan. Biden was speaking about his frequent interactions with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, when he said: “Did anybody think we’d be in a situation where China is trying to figure out its role relative to Russia and relative to India and relative to Pakistan? “This is a guy who understands what he wants but has an enormous, enormous array of problems. How do we handle that? How do we handle that relative to what’s going on in Russia? “And what I think is maybe one of the most dangerous nations in the world: Pakistan. Nuclear weapons without any cohesion.” Hours after the transcript of his address was posted, Pakistan summoned the US ambassador Donald Blome to the foreign office in Islamabad. Washington’s relations with Pakistan have soured since last year, when the US ended a two-decade war in Afghanistan.

Newsline: Top Pakistani Diplomat Involved In Visa Scam In Europe

A high-ranking Pakistani diplomat, who faced serious allegations of human smuggling in March, is at the core of a visa scam as he tried to persuade the European embassies in Islamabad to illegally get visas for Pakistan nationals. A complaint was filed against the high-ranking Pakistani diplomat Israr Husain by Tariq Javid Khan, a former government servant who is in the visa business. Several emails issued to different embassies along with proofs of payment made to the accused diplomat were attached to the application, The News International reported. (https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/top-pak-diplomat-involved-in-visa-scam-in-europe-report-3215112) Husain used to work as an additional secretary of Europe and he would try to persuade the European embassies in Islamabad to get visas for Pakistan nationals. He allegedly tried to send around 11 individuals to Spain. Husain had earlier also served as Pakistan’s ambassador in Czech Republic. Khan alleged that Husain “made an offer to facilitate the issuance of visit, work and residency visas for Italy, the Czech Republic, Spain, Poland and South Korea. He also introduced me to the ambassadors of these countries in Pakistan.” He added that he has the complete record of all payments he made to Hussain in the form of bank receipts, local media reported. The visa was not issued and the Pakistani diplomat had refused to return the money and warned him of dire consequences in case the word went out. The complaint added that the ambassador of Italy, Czech Republic and Spain “will be happy to confirm Husain’s disorderly conduct and they will provide evidence regarding his continuous requests for the illegal issuances of visas.” A formal complaint regarding Husain’s deceptive conduct was submitted to the foreign office by the ambassador of Czech Republic in Pakistan and the ambassador of Pakistan in Czech Republic.

Newsline: Pakistani protesters call for French ambassador to be expelled from country

Thousands of supporters of a radical Islamist party in Pakistan continued to protest over depictions of the Prophet Muhammad in France that they deem blasphemous. They were angered by remarks made by French President Emmanuel Macron in the wake of the murder of French teacher Samuel Paty. Macron defended the freedom of expression to produce the cartoons and attacked “Islamist separatism”. The protesters in Pakistan — supporters of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party — called for the expulsion of the French ambassador in Islamabad. They also want to cut diplomatic relations with France and withdraw their ambassador from the country. Muhammad Latif, a protester at the event in Islamabad, said: “We love our prophet, we will give our life for the respect and honour of Prophet Muhammad, we will give our life but can’t accept the French ambassador’s presence here.” (https://www.euronews.com/2020/11/16/pakistani-protesters-call-for-french-ambassador-to-be-expelled-from-country) The sit-in, which has continued at an important intersection, started unplanned at the end of a protest march from Rawalpindi led by TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi, despite resistance by police on Sunday night. TLP supporters defied the security arrangements of police and the administration and clashed with security forces at different points on the way to the Faizabad intersection.

Newsline: U.S. Embassy in Pakistan Apologizes for Retweeting Anti-Trump Post

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad apologized on Wednesday after saying that its official Twitter account had been used without permission to retweet an anti-Trump post from a Pakistani opposition politician and rival of Prime Minister Imran Khan. “The U.S. Embassy Islamabad Twitter account was accessed last night without authorization,” the American diplomatic mission said in a message on Twitter. “The U.S. Embassy does not endorse the posting or retweeting of political messages,” the post added. “We apologize for any confusion that may have resulted.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/11/world/asia/pakistan-embassy-retweet.html) The opposition politician who was retweeted, Ahsan Iqbal, is a former federal minister who is a member of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party. On Tuesday night, Mr. Iqbal posted an image of a Washington Post headline, “Trump’s defeat is a blow to world’s demagogues and dictators,” with the comment: “We have one in Pakistan too. He will be shown way out soon,” referring to Mr. Khan, the prime minister. The U.S. Embassy’s account retweeted Mr. Iqbal’s message, causing an uproar on social media in Pakistan. The hashtag #ApologiseUSembassy was trending on Twitter in the country on Wednesday, when the retweet was deleted. There was no immediate indication that the account had been hacked, but the embassy declined to comment further.