ISLAMABAD .: Federal Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi on Monday said that the federal government, in consultation with the government of Balochistan and other stakeholders, has prepared a comprehensive plan for the security and safety of pilgrims to Iran.
“Protecting the lives and property of the people is the government’s top priority,” said Afridi during a press conference at Balochistan House in Islamabad. Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal and Deputy Speaker National Assembly Qasim Suri were also present.
Afridi said he held meetings with all stakeholders on the problems facing the pilgrims, including the security issues. He said he had also spoken to the Foreign Office and raised the visa issues.
The minister said the government was considering alternate routes – by sea, air as well as train – for pilgrims to travel to Iran. All the issues related to pilgrims would be properly documented, he said, adding that during his recent visit to Balochistan, including travel to Taftan border, he reviewed all the arrangements.
Afridi said that during his short visit to Taftan, the Pakistan-Iran border city, he asked the local authorities to facilitate pilgrims and ensure they did not face any difficulties. He said he also inspected the immigration procedure so that the immigration-related problems of the pilgrims could be solved, adding that the number of immigration desks at Taftan had also been increased.
The minister said that all the federating units would be treated equally as “we want to move forward collectively and work as a team in the new Pakistan”. He added, “We have to end deprivation in Balochistan as development of Pakistan depends on the development of Balochistan.”
Answering a question about the ongoing drive against encroachments, Afridi said that at least 31 plazas had been demolished by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the operation would continue till the complete removal of the encroachment.
“Strict action will be taken against those CDA officials who facilitated encroachers,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Balochistan CM Kamal said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had constituted a committee headed by Afridi to visit Balochistan and get first-hand information of the issue facing the pilgrims to Iran. The committee, he added, held meetings with the representatives of law enforcement agencies, pilgrims and other stakeholders.
Kamal also said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had started taking up serious issues related to Balochistan. “Change will now be seen on ground,” he said, adding that the issues related to the province would be overcome with the cooperation of the federal government.