In an interview yesterday with the local English newspaper 'The News', Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Ali Al-Assiri called for immediate efforts to work out a representative political solution in Kabul, and to accelerate relief aid for the Afghans, especially since the holy month of Ramadan begins soon. There must be an indigenous Afghan solution, he said, not one imposed from outside. He went on to declare that the Taleban have betrayed Afghanistan and its people by sacrificing everything for one man - Osama bin Ladin - and added that if bombing continues during Ramadan, everyone will sympathize with the Afghans, who are paying a heavy price for the blunders of the Taleban leadership. He reaffirmed that Saudi Arabia will never give up on the people of Afghanistan, and is committed to extending full support to rebuilding the country.
Meanwhile, in Islamabad today Ambassador Al-Assiri opened the consulate's new visa section, which will facilitate the issuance of umrah (minor pilgrimage) visas. The new section can process up to 1,000 visas per day, up from only 500 to 600.