Islamabad yet to comment on Afghan minister's using Pakistani passport after probe

Report reveals Afghanistan Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani was issued a Pakistani passport for 5 years which he used to travel abroad

December 07, 2023
FO spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch addressing a presser in this still taken from a video. — X/ForeignOfficePk

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office has said it will ascertain facts before commenting on the report about Afghanistan Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani possessing a Pakistani passport until recently.

"I have seen the report on the use of a Pakistani passport by the Afghan minister. The matter will be answered after [ascertaining] the facts," said FO spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch addressing a presser on Thursday.

Earlier today, The News reported that Haqqani was issued a Pakistani passport for five years which he used to travel abroad, particularly to Qatar for negotiations with the United States for the signing of the Doha Agreement that resulted in the latter's exit from Afghanistan.

The publication, via the interior ministry officials, learnt that these passports were issued from different cities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Sindh.

Meanwhile, two passport officials involved in issuing Haqqani's passport have been arrested, one of whom had retired from service by the time the action was initiated against him.

The issue around the minister using the Pakistani passport comes at a time when Pakistan continues to repatriate illegal foreigners, most of whom are undocumented Afghan migrants.

Baloch also briefed the presser about top officials from the United States visiting Pakistan this week.

"The focus of these visits is not only Afghanistan. These visits are related to the multifaceted aspects of Pakistan-US relations," she said, adding that Pakistan has decided to talk to America.

Pakistan and the US will conduct consultations over several issues including the situation in Afghanistan, the FO said last week.

In the meetings between Pakistan and US officials, reservations of both sides will be discussed. "We will also discuss the issues on which we have objections."

List of Afghans awaiting US asylum

The spokesperson further shared that Pakistan has received an updated list from the American authorities regarding the transfer of Afghan nationals to the US.

Last month, a coalition comprising former high-ranking United States (US) officials and resettlement organisations issued an urgent appeal to Pakistan, urging it to not deport Afghan individuals applying to seek refuge in and visas for the US.

The appeal came weeks after Pakistan announced November 1 as the deadline for all undocumented migrants — a substantial number of whom are Afghans — residing in the country to either leave on their own or face expulsion once the ultimatum ends.

The population of the aforementioned migrants includes roughly 20,000 or potentially more Afghans, who escaped their homeland following the Taliban's return to power in 2021. Many of these migrants in Pakistan are awaiting their applications for the US Special Immigration Visas (SIVs) or refugee resettlement in the United States to be processed.

Commenting on regular skirmishes at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the spokesperson said: "There are often misunderstandings between the border authorities. These misunderstandings are cleared through communication channels."

She added that the Torkham border was opened for all kinds of traffic yesterday.

'No place safe in Gaza'

The FO yet again condemned the continuous Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip, stating that the situation in the Strip is rapidly deteriorating.

"No place in Gaza is safe for the public," Baloch said.

The UN Security Council must perform its primary responsibility under the Charter, impose an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and protect the people of Gaza from an impending genocide, the FO spokesperson said.

"We call on Israel’s backers to urge Israel to end its barbaric attacks and inhumane siege against Gaza," she added.

The spokesperson further stated that Pakistan calls for an international conference for long-term peace on the Palestinian question.

"Durable peace in the region will emerge from the internationally agreed two-state solution and from the creation of a secure, viable, contiguous, and sovereign state of Palestine on the basis of the pre-June 1967 borders, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital," she said.

Baloch also spoke about the United NationsSecretary-General Antonio Guterres's efforts for Palestinians.

The head of the UN warned that he expects "public order to completely break down soon due to the desperate conditions" in Gaza, currently under relentless Israeli bombardment andinvoked Article 99 of the UN Charter for the first time in his tenure owing to the gravity of the humanitarian crisis in the Strip.

'Pakistani citizens welfare top priority'

During the presser, Baloch commented on the recent revelations regardingDr Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist jailed in the United States for over a decade.

According to her lawyer, the Pakistani doctor has been sexually assaulted at least two times during her incarceration.

"The statements related to Aafia Siddiqui are serious," the spokesperson said.

She further added that Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has instructed that the matter should be taken up with the US Department of State and investigations should be conducted.

"The welfare of Pakistani citizens is among our priorities," Baloch reiterated.

She also spoke about the acid attack on former special assistant to the prime minister Shahzad Akbar last week.

"Shahzad Akbar did not seek help from the Pakistani High Commission in this regard," she said.

The FO strongly rejected the allegations of involvement of Pakistani agencies in the incident. "Pakistan has faith in the British authorities' investigation."