Qatar offers visa-free entry to India, 79 other nations amid Gulf crisis

Energy-rich Qatar’s economy took a hit since Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain moved to isolate it

Qatar announced on Wednesday it was scrapping visa requirements for visitors from 80 countries as it weathers a boycott by four Arab states and gears up to host the World Cup in 2022.

Under the new policy announced by Qatar Airways and authorities, citizens of 33 mostly European countries can enter without a visa for 90 days in single or multiple trips during a 180-day period.

Americans, Britons, Canadians and citizens of 44 other countries can enter visa-free for an initial 30 days on single or multiple trips, and can extend that for a further 30 days.

Energy-rich Qatar’s economy has taken a hit since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain moved to isolate it two months ago over allegations it supports extremists.

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The quartet of Arab nations is particularly irked by Qatar’s ties with Iran and its support of Islamist opposition groups. Qatar denies it backs terror groups and says the allegations against Doha are politically motivated.

The four countries cut diplomatic and transport links with Qatar in June, and barred Qatar from using their airspace and shipping lanes.

In a related development, the UAE and Bahrain today sought to clarify a statement made the day before by the International Civil Aviation Organization, which said both countries had agreed to open up some of their airspace, including new “temporary or contingency” routes, for Qatar Airways.

The two, in statements carried on the UAE’s and Bahrain’s state-run news agencies, said that they had not agreed to open up their airspace in full to Qatari flights but to only allow Qatari aircraft to use their airspace located above international waters.

Iran warns Pakistan on safeguarding terrorist havens

“If continued, we’ll hit the terrorists’ safe havens anywhere they are,” Iran’s Army chief said

Iran’s Chief of Army Staff Major General Mohammad Baqeri has warned Pakistan that Tehran would not hesitate to strike terrorists’ safe havens if Pakistan fails to control their movement on their border or fails to shut down their bases.

“Unfortunately, Iran’s eastern border regions with Pakistan have become a safe haven for training and equipping terrorists recruited by Saudi Arabia and supported by the United States. We will not tolerate this situation in the joint borders and expect the Pakistani officials to show responsibility, control their borders, arrest terrorists and shut down outlaws’ bases,’ IRNA news agency quoted Major General Baqeri as saying.

“If continued, we will hit the terrorists’ safe havens anywhere they are,” he added.

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Asserting that enemies are trying to damage the country’s security using all available tools, Major General Baqeri urged the Iranian Armed Forces to promote their scientific skills and equip themselves with sophisticated technologies in order to get prepared for countering various types of threats.

He also praised the sacrifices made by the Iranian Armed Forces to preserve the country’s security.

Lashing out at Islamabad for failing to prevent terror attacks against Iran from its soil, Chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi last month had said that the neighbouring country has become a “safe haven” for terrorist cells.Read more