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A US travel ban on Pakistan to be counterproductive: minister

WASHINGTON: Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal has said that putting Pakistan on a list of countries whose citizens have been temporarily barred from visiting the United States will be counterproductive.

Mr Iqbal, who met several US officials and lawmakers during his five-day stay in Washington, said he did not notice any intention to place Pakistan on the list of banned states but “if it were to happen, it would be counterproductive”.

Pakistan, he said, was an important country with a large middle class spread across the globe and the Pakistan diaspora was making a major contribution to global development. “Singling them out like this would be a mistake,” said the minister while pointing out that only a tiny fraction of the estimated 1.6 billion Muslims around the world were involved in terrorist activities.

“The overwhelming majority of Muslims lives peacefully and pursues its goals like other religious groups and nations,” he said.

The minister was talking to the Pakistani media on Thursday evening after addressing a seminar on Kashmir at the Pakistan Embassy where he reminded the international community of its responsibility to help resolve the Kashmir issue.

Taouqir Hussain, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, Washington, however, explained how changing realities had made it difficult for Pakistan to advocate its case on Kashmir before the international community.

India’s growing economic and political influence were forcing other nations to seek closer ties with India, making them less inclined to hear Pakistan’s arguments, Prof Hussain said.

The minister acknowledged that changing realities had made it difficult for Pakistan to reach out to other nations but he said that despite these difficulties, Pakistan could not abandon Kashmir.

He argued that if a referendum could be held in East Timor and South Sudan to get people their fundamental rights, there was no justification for denying the Kashmiris the same right.

“If a referendum is not held in Kashmir, people there will be justified to think that the international community has double standards,” Mr Iqbal said, adding that world powers that had stakes in global peace and security must address the suffering of the people in Kashmir as they addressed the suffering of people in East Timor and South Sudan.

He said that Pakistan was firmly committed to the cause of Kashmiris as Kashmir was an unfinished agenda of partition. “Pakistan will highlight Kashmir cause on all political and diplomatic forums,” he said.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to US Jalil Abbas Jilani said at the seminar that the international community should persuade India to hold referendum in held Kashmir. He said that India could not suppress the freedom movement in Kashmir for long.

Kashmiri-American leaders Prof Dr Imtiaz Khan of George Washington University and Dr Akram Dar of Kashmiri American Council highlighted various dimensions of this issue, appealing to the Pakistani nation to continue supporting the Kashmir cause, even though it was becoming increasingly difficult to do so.

They decried the apathy of international community on the plight of Kashmiris who had been subjected to Indian subjugation for three generations.

courtesy : dawn news



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