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Sweden shuts down embassy in Islamabad

The embassy refused to tell when the mission will resume its working

Ansar M Bhatti

ISLAMABAD, APR 11: Sweden has shut down its embassy in Islamabad for an indefinite period over security risks. According to Swedish Embassy, it will remain shut for visitors and would not be able to send any documents to its consulates, Gerry centers and on home addresses of its applicants. The embassy has extended its apology over the inconvenience but has stated that it gives priority to provide security to its visa applicants and staff. The embassy refused to tell when the mission will resume its working in Islamabad.

Diplomatic sources said that Pakistani students who want to get admission in the Swedish educational institutions will be affected most as the new academic session in Swedish universities is starting from August and the visa process approximately takes 4-6 months.

Likewise, the Pakistani Diaspora living in Sweden could not apply visit visas for their families back home. The overseas Pakistani community is trying to reach out to the Pakistan Embassy in Sweden and the Foreign Office to apprise them of their difficulties.

On the other hand, the Pakistani students have also written a letter to Foreign Secretary Asad Majeed Khan in this regard. According to diplomatic sources, the concerned authorities in the Foreign Office have also raised the matter with the Swedish Embassy.

 In January 2023, protests were erupted against Sweden all across the Muslim world especially in Pakistan over the burning of Holy Quran near Turkey’s embassy in Stockholm by a far-right politician and anti-Islam provocateur, Rasmus Paludan, a dual Danish-Swedish national, with a reputation for carrying out similar acts.

It may also be mentioned here that another Scandinavian country Finland had also closed down its mission in Pakistan almost ten years ago over security reasons. However the Finnish authorities later made it clear that the Islamabad mission was shut down because of some budgetary constraints.   Finland, nevertheless, has recently re-opened its embassy in Islamabad.

Croatia happens to be another country, which used to have an embassy in Islamabad but then shut it down in early 90s. The Croatian authorities had cited multiple reasons for the closure of the mission however the key reason was lack of any bilateral engagement both in the political and economic arena.

Diplomatic sources believed that Denmark may also follow the suit after Sweden and may wind up from Pakistan albeit for the time being. Denmark, like Sweden, is also faced with similar security threats in the wake of continuous incidents of desecration of holy Quran.

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