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PM orders probe into complaints against ex-ambassador to KSA – Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered an inquiry into the complaints by Pakistani community in Saudi Arabia against the ambassador and six other officials of the embassy in Riyadh by recalling all of them to face a high-powered inquiry committee.

Speaking at his weekly media briefing, Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said that the prime minister has directed to conduct an inquiry and the directions are being fully implemented.

He said the ambassador of Pakistan to Saudi Arabia Raja Ali Ijaz has already returned and orders have been issued for the recall of six more officers of the diplomatic, community welfare, and consular wings of the Embassy.

“A high powered inquiry committee will look into the matter,” the spokesperson said in response to a query about the unfriendly and unprofessional treatment of the Pakistani community by the officials of Pakistan’s mission in Riyadh.

Chaudhri further stated that the government of Pakistan attaches high importance to the welfare of overseas Pakistanis, adding that overseas Pakistanis are “our greatest asset” and their role in national development is indispensable.

“There is zero tolerance, whatsoever, for any lapse in the public service delivery,” he said, adding that Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, himself, oversees the working of all our diplomatic missions, particularly with regards to the services being provided to the Pakistani community.

In this regard, he added that Pakistan’s missions, all across the world, have standing instructions to extend maximum facilitation to the Pakistani community in their respective jurisdictions.

Ambassador Ijaz, a career diplomat, was due to retire on May 18, 2021 and sources said that he was recalled recently after the prime minister took serious notice of the complaints by Pakistani community. In a letter sent to the Foreign Office and other relevant departments dated April 28, 2021, the prime minister has directed to place Ambassador Raja Ali Ijaz under suspension with immediate effect.

“It has further been desired that all staff dealing with public/diaspora, posted in the Pakistani embassy/consulates in KSA is to be recalled and process for their replacements may be initiated immediately by the concerned ministries,” according to the PM House letter, a copy of which is also available with Business Recorder.

Meanwhile, the newly-appointed ambassador to Saudi Arabia Lt Gen Bilal Akbar (retd) has already moved to Riyadh to take the charge as Pakistan’s envoy to the Kingdom.

Responding to another query about Saudi Arabia’s peace initiative with Iran, he said that Pakistan welcomes the Saudi Arabia’s initiative for peace with Iran, adding that Pakistan enjoys good brotherly relations with both Iran and Saudi Arabia.

“Pakistan has always stressed the imperative of avoiding any conflict, underscored the importance of defusing tensions and stressed the need for resolution of differences and disputes through political and diplomatic means. We believe that the peace initiative announced by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will lead to unity among the Muslim World,” Chaudhri said.

He further stated that Prime Minister Imran Khan will be undertaking an official visit to Saudi Arabia at the invitation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, early next month.

When asked whether any formal talks were taking place between Pakistan and India, he neither confirmed nor denied and insisted that Pakistan has never shied away from talks with India.

“We have consistently maintained that there is a need for a ‘meaning dialogue’ with India and peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues including the core issue of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” he added.

However, he added for any “meaningful” and “result oriented dialogue” to take place, a “conducive” and “enabling environment” is of utmost importance. “We believe that India, through its illegal and unilateral actions of august 5th 2019 has vitiated the environment, therefore, the onus is on India to create an enabling environment so that a “meaningful” and “result-oriented” dialogue can take place,” he added. About the role of a third party, including UAE, he said that Pakistan has always highlighted the importance of the role by the international community in averting risks to the regional peace and stability and facilitating a lasting resolution to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, in accordance with the UNSC resolutions, which call for a free and impartial plebiscite under the UN auspices.

To another question, Chaudhri said that Pakistan’s defence capability is accomplished and acknowledged.

“We are fully cognizant of our security needs, and are prepared to respond to any misadventure…Our response in Balakot incident was a manifestation of the capability and preparedness of our armed forces and our national resolve to defeat ill designs of enemy,” he added.

Responding to another query, he renewed Pakistan’s offer to India about providing Covid-19-related relief and support items as a “gesture of solidarity”. “We are ready to immediately provide ventilators, Bi PAP, digital X ray machines, PPEs and related items,” he said, adding that the concerned authorities of Pakistan and India may also explore possible ways of further cooperation to mitigate the challenge posed by the pandemic.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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