ISLAMABAD   -    Minister for SAFRON Shehryar Khan Afridi said yesterday that Prime Minister Imran Khan wanted Muslim Ummah to stand united and Pakistan was ready to play a bridging role among Muslim countries in this regard.

Extending a warm welcome to Iran’s visiting Deputy Minister for Interior Hossein Zolfaghari, Shehryar Afridi said Tehran and Islamabad were fastened in decades-long relationship of friendship and brotherhood, and both countries would rise as robust economic powers. He hoped that the visit of Iranian minister will go a long way in further cementing the bilateral relationship.

“Hosting refugees is a great privilege as Madinah had hosted Ansar. I have a dynamic team who is doing a lot to make stay of Afghan refugees comfortable in Pakistan,” said the minister.

Afridi said Pakistani people loved lran from core of their hearts as Iran stood by Pakistan in testing times.

He said Pakistani Zaireen were looked after by Iranian authorities every year and “we are indebted to Iranian authorities for it.” He said that Iranian Ambassador Mehdi Honardoost was doing a lot to further strengthen bilateral relations.

“We are supporting and facilitating Afghan refugees who have been integrated with society as 68 per cent refugees live out of camps and only 32 per cent are in camps.” “Prime Minister Imran Khan has allowed 1.4 million Afghan refugees to open bank accounts and join the formal economy of Pakistan and this initiative is unprecedented in human history,” said the minister. He said Pakistan and Iran shared same religion, language, culture, norms and hence all Pakistanis opened their doors to Afghan refugees.

“Despite involvement of some of Afghan nationals in criminal and terrorist activities in Pakistan, Islamabad never closed its doors on Afghan refugees. It shows we are responsible state in terms of global commitments and human values,” he added.

He said, “With our new visa regime, Pakistan is best destination for Iranian tourists and investors and they may visit Pakistan without any problems.”

“Prime Minister Imran Khan is ready to play a bridging role for Muslim Ummah as unity among Muslim states is need of the hour. I plan to visit Iran with various people from all schools of thought carrying message of peace and brotherhood,” the minister added. Expressing gratitude for the warm welcome, Iranian Deputy Minister for Interior said no third party or country could create misunderstandings between two brotherly countries.

“There are commonalities and shared history. We are working together with Pakistan in hosting Afghan refugees to help resolve humanitarian issues of refugees,” he said.

Hossein Zolfaghari said that both Pakistan and Iran were hosting more than three million Afghan refugees and spending extra funds in hosting these refugees. “We will share ideas with Pakistan. I congratulate victory of PTI and your appointment. Prime Minister Imran Khan visit was very productive. Our mutual relations have improved and we are willing to resolve border issues mutually. We are witnessing a very positive change,” he concluded.