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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday held telephonic conversation with his counterpart from Poland Zbigniew Rau and sought the Polish government’s facilitation in evacuation of Pakistanis stranded in Ukraine due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.

In a statement, Foreign Office said that during the telephonic conversation, the two sides exchanged views on Pakistan-Poland relations as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest. Recalling his earlier phone conversation with the Polish Foreign Minister last September, Foreign Minister Qureshi stated that Pakistan had close ties with Poland and remained committed to further enhance them across all areas of mutual benefit.

Regarding the situation in Ukraine, Qureshi expressed Pakistan’s serious concern and underscored Pakistan’s belief that disputes should be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy.

He also appraised his Polish counterpart about Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent visit to Russia, saying the prime minister had regretted the situation and hoped that diplomacy could avert a military conflict.

Qureshi added that the prime minister had further stated that conflict was not in anyone’s interest, and that the developing countries were always hit the hardest economically. The foreign minister reiterated Pakistan’s strong emphasis on de-escalation, dialogue, and diplomacy.

Foreign Minister Qureshi highly appreciated the Polish side for receiving Pakistani students and community being evacuated from Ukraine. He added that Pakistan looked forward to continued assistance by the Polish government during this difficult period.

“The Polish foreign minister assured of Poland’s full support and facilitation in the evacuation process,” according to the statement, adding the two ministers agreed to remain in close contact.

It added that so far, 606 Pakistani including students have been safely evacuated to Poland from Ukraine.

However, giving an update on the evacuation operation, Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar in an audio message stated that till afternoon of the February 28, around 676 stranded Pakistanis have successfully and safely evacuated from Ukraine due to the hectic efforts by Pakistani mission.

Currently, he added that there were eight Pakistanis present on the Ukraine-Hungary border to crossover and few others in many other cities of Ukraine, including nine students in Ternopil, while another groups of 100 Pakistanis are on their way towards Ternopil. “Despite limited staff and resources, our Embassy in Ukraine worked 24/7 during the last three to four days,” he said, adding that majority of stranded Pakistanis had been evacuated and the Embassy was in touch with the remaining Pakistani citizens.

He said that every kind of facilitation was being extended to the stranded Pakistanis, adding Foreign Minister Qureshi was also in touch with his counterparts from many concerned countries and Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood also spoke with Islamabad-based concerned ambassadors of those countries to facilitate the safe evacuation of Pakistanis to the neighbouring countries of Ukraine.

According to him, prior to the start of the conflict, the Embassy in Ukraine had issued advisories to all the Pakistanis. He said that prior to the crisis, there were a total of 7,000 Pakistanis – 4,000 community member and 3,000 students – in Ukraine. Out of the total 7,000 Pakistanis, he added that majority had already left Ukraine before February 24. He added that when the crisis started, there were around 700 Pakistani students and few hundred other community members were present in Ukraine and the efforts for their safe evacuation is underway.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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