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ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani on Thursday met Afghan acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in Tibet amid tension between the two neighbouring countries over Pakistan’s decision to deport illegally residing foreign nationals including Afghans. According to a statement of the Foreign Office here, the meeting took place on the sidelines of the Third Trans-Himalaya Forum for International Cooperation held in Tibet Autonomous Region of China from 4-5 October 2023 where the two ministers were also representing their respective countries.

“FM [Jilani] reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to further strengthen bilateral ties with Afghanistan and underscored that challenges confronting regional peace and stability be addressed in collaborative spirit through collective strategies,” according to the statement.

The meeting took place at a time when Pakistan has given November 1, 2023, as a deadlinefor all illegal immigrants, including Afghans to leave the country or face forceful deportation.

Kabul criticised the move, saying “Pakistan’s behaviour with Afghan refugees is unacceptable” and asked Islamabad to review its decision.

“The behaviour of Pakistan against Afghan refugees is unacceptable. The Pakistani side should reconsider its plan. Afghan refugees are not involved in Pakistan’s security problems. As long as they leave Pakistan voluntarily, that country should tolerate them,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, the official spokesperson of the Afghan interim government in a statement on Wednesday.

However, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch on Thursday clarified that the move is not targeted at Afghan refugees, but at all illegal foreigners including Afghan nationals will have to leave by the deadline or they will be dealt with by the country’s domestic laws.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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