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FM Qureshi postpones Japan tour due to 'sensitive' regional situation

Updated February 25, 2019

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Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told his Japanese counterpart that he will be unable to make an official visit due to the sensitive regional situation. ─ Photo courtesy FO
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told his Japanese counterpart that he will be unable to make an official visit due to the sensitive regional situation. ─ Photo courtesy FO

The Foreign Office on Monday announced that Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had postponed his trip to Japan due to the "sensitive situation" brewing in the region in the wake of the Pulwama attack.

According to media reports, the Jaish-e-Muhammad had claimed responsibility for the attack but New Delhi immediately blamed Islamabad and threatened a retaliatory attack. It also announced that it would launch a diplomatic offensive to isolate Pakistan in the international community. Furthermore, India scrapped the Most Favoured Nation status granted to Pakistan and imposed a 200 per cent customs duty on its goods, barring the exports of tomatoes to Pakistan and denying visas to Pakistani athletes.

In response to India's allegations, Prime Minister Imran Khan promised to conduct an investigation if New Delhi provided “actionable evidence” but also warned that Pakistan will "retaliate" if attacked. On Friday, the Pakistan army also warned India to avoid "any misadventure", as it could have dangerous consequences.

As Delhi ratcheted up regional tensions in the days following the attack, Qureshi cancelled his scheduled Feb 24 trip ─ on official invitation ─ to Japan.

The foreign minister in a telephone call with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono on Saturday explained that it was "imperative" that he remains in Pakistan due to the "extremely grave" situation which emerged in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack.

The foreign minister told Kono that he had urged the United Nations to help stabilise the security situation in a letter to the UN secretary general. According to the FO press release, Qureshi said he had also asked Japan to play a role in the same.

Qureshi acknowledged that the relationship between Tokyo and Islamabad had improved considerably over the past year due to multiple visits by Japanese officials. He requested Kono to brief the Japanese prime minister about the situation due to which Qureshi had to postpone his tour.

Both foreign ministers agreed to set a new date for Qureshi's tour. During his visit, the foreign minister is expected to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the FO statement said.

Germany lauds Pakistan's overtures to ensure peace in the region

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi shakes hands with German counterpart Heiko Maas ahead of a meeting held on the sidelines of Munich Security Conference in Germany. — Photo courtesy FO
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi shakes hands with German counterpart Heiko Maas ahead of a meeting held on the sidelines of Munich Security Conference in Germany. — Photo courtesy FO

Qureshi also discussed the evolving regional situation with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in a telephone conversation on Sunday.

He said that despite India's "baseless allegations and aggressive rhetoric", Pakistan had offered to cooperate with India to investigate the Pulwama attack if Delhi shared "actionable evidence" with Islamabad.

He also highlighted the human rights violations by the Indian forces in occupied Kashmir in the aftermath of Feb attack. Maas lauded Pakistan's overtures to India and stressed upon "the need to preserve peace and stability in the region".

Both ministers "agreed to continue consultations on matters of mutual importance" and "expressed satisfaction" over bilateral relations between Germany and Pakistan.