An estimated 1.6 million Pakistanis live in the UAE and are a major source of remittance abroad for the Pakistani economy.
Islamabad, Pakistan – The Pakistani Foreign Minister raised the issue of visa restrictions on Pakistani nationals imposed by the United Arab Emirates during meetings with senior officials from the Emirates during a three-day tour of the country, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi ended his three-day visit to the United Arab Emirates, a key ally of Pakistan, on Tuesday after meeting with the Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
“[Qureshi] stressed the need to nurture and strengthen relationships between people and remove barriers that hinder travel between the two countries, “said a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released on Tuesday.
The UAE is home to an estimated 1.6 million Pakistanis and they are a major source of remittance abroad for the Pakistani economy.
Since November, the UAE has banned work visas for citizens from 13 predominantly Muslim countries, including Pakistan.
Qureshi also raised the issue at a previous meeting with UAE Minister for Tolerance and Coexistence Sheikh Nahyan Mabarak Al Nahyan, the Foreign Ministry said.
“The Foreign Minister thanked the UAE leadership for their considerate attitude towards expatriates and briefed Sheikh Nahyan on the problems facing the Pakistani community, particularly the restrictions on visa matters,” it said in a statement.
The issue was also discussed at Qureshi’s meeting with the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Ahmed bin Ali Al Sayegh, according to a Pakistani statement.
In the statements of the government of the United Arab Emirates, the issue of visa restrictions was not mentioned.
UAE Foreign Minister Al Nahyan met with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, sparking speculation that Pakistani and Indian Foreign Ministers might hold a face-to-face meeting.
Earlier this month, a senior UAE diplomat confirmed his country was helping to mediate between its South Asian neighbors, whose diplomatic relations have been virtually frozen since a military stalemate in 2019 in the disputed Kashmiri region.
However, Qureshi declined reports of a possible meeting between the two top diplomats in an interview with the Gulf-based newspaper Khaleej Times.
Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera’s digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweeted @AsadHashim.