The U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, along with US Charge d’ Affaires Ambassador Paul Jones, travelled to Multan this afternoon to meet with Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Foreign Minister Qureshi is in Multan for the 780th Urs celebrations of the revered Islamic scholar and Sufi Saint Hazrat Bahauddin Zikria.

Foreign Minister briefed Senator Van Hollen on the tradition and rituals of this annual ceremony which commemorated the life and teachings of the renowned Islamic mystic Hazrat Bahauddin Zikria for tolerance, respect and peaceful co-existence.

Foreign Minister thanked Senator Van Hollen for his principled stance in raising consistent concerns on the deteriorating situation in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Foreign Minister appreciated Senator’s leadership role in proposing an amendment to the Senate Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill, 2020 that explicitly expresses concern about the “humanitarian crisis in Kashmir.”

While briefing the Senator on the continued state of siege in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir, Foreign Minister encouraged the Senator to visit both sides of Kashmir to assess the ground situation. Upon Foreign Minister’s suggestion, Senator will visit Azad Jammu & Kashmir and have a first-hand evaluation of the situation. It may be recalled that during his recent visit to India, the Indian Government had declined his request to visit the Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir.

The Foreign Minister stated that policy of denial by the Indian Government to neutral observers to visit Kashmir demonstrated their efforts to conceal the brutal repression and misery of the people of Kashmir at the hands of Indian forces.

Earlier today , Senator Chris Van Hollen also visited North Waziristan to see the transformation and return to normalcy post comprehensive military operations in former FATA. During a briefing session in Miran Shah, he was told how the life was coming back to normal and the local people were resuming their livelihoods. Government’s plans to fence the border with Afghanistan to prevent mutual concerns on unregulated cross border movement were also shared with the Senator.

05 October 2019

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