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Pak advices citizens not to travel to Iraq
July 29, 2004 11:40 IST
Condemning the execution of two abducted Pakistanis by Iraqi militants, Pakistan on Thursday advised its citizens to not to travel to Iraq under any circumstances due to the deteriorating situation there.
The news of the execution of Raja Azad (49) and Sajad Naeem (29), both hailing from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK), came in the early hours after Gulf-based TV channel Al Jazeera announced that it received the footage of their execution.
The two worked for the Kuwait-based al-Tamimi group in Baghdad. The abductors said they pronounced the death sentence on them as they were found to be working for the US army in Iraq and also because Pakistan was considering sending troops to Iraq. The militant group, Islamic Army in Iraq, also showed pictures of the two with a top US general.
This was the second time Iraqi militants abducted a Pakistani national. The earlier victim was released after appeals from Pakistani leaders.
The news of executions sent shock waves in PoK. PoK President General (retd) Anwar Khan said the execution was a gruesome and inhuman act and they were shocked at the news because they were sure of their safe release.
Both were innocent and their murder was shocking news, he said adding while most of the POK workers were employed in Kuwait there were a large number of people working in Iraq.
The news of the killings of the two devastated their families who were hoping that their loved once would return home as Iraqi militants previously released another PoK native after appeals from the Pakistani parliament and leaders.
"President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain have received the news of the reported murder of two Pakistanis in Iraq with distress and anguish," state-owned Pakistan Television said.
Terming the execution as the 'greatest harm both to humanity and Islam', the two leaders said that they and millions of other Pakistanis share the grief and sorrow of the bereaved families.
Pakistan, they said, has always condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and believes that such barbaric acts can never be justified.
They also reiterated Pakistan's firm commitment to the security and independence of Iraq and hoped that the Gulf state and its people will see it free of internal and external turmoil.
Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Masood Khan said the entire country has been devastated after hearing the news. "It is a crime against, humanity, Islam and against Pakistan as well as people of Iraq," he said over PTV.He urged all Pakistanis working in Iraq to pull out and asked those who wanting to go Iraq even for pilgrimage to defer the plans until the situation improved. Karbala in Iraq is an important pilgrimage centre for Shia Muslims.