DUBAI: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on the second day of his three-day visit to the United Arab Emirates has announced that facilitation by Pakistan led to the US-Taliban peace agreement and subsequent intra-Afghan negotiations and expressed the hope that Afghan parties would work constructively to achieve shared objective of a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
Highlighting the country’s abiding interest in a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan, Mr Qureshi underscored Islamabad’s consistent policy to enhance bilateral relations and facilitate Afghan peace process. “We support reconciliation in Afghanistan and progress in peace process, in Istanbul. I look forward to meeting FM Atmar at Istanbul Conf & to hosting him in Pakistan soon after to discuss a way forward post conf,” the foreign minister tweeted after receiving a call from his Afghan counterpart Hanif Atmar on Sunday.
While discussing the evolving peace process and the US announcement to withdraw forces, Mr Qureshi reiterated Pakistan’s consistent policy to support an orderly and responsible withdrawal of foreign troops. With a view to continuing close consultations, he also invited Mr Atmar to visit Pakistan after the meeting in Istanbul.
Separately, FM Qureshi also clarified that he had no meeting scheduled with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar but expressed willingness to talk with Delhi if it took back its steps of August 5, saying that Pakistan could not ignore the Kashmir issue.
Islamabad had suspended trade and diplomatic ties with India in 2019 after New Delhi had revoked the special status of the part of disputed Jammu and Kashmir. However, in February, Islamabad and New Delhi pledged to end all firing along the disputed frontier, after months of violence between the nuclear-armed neighbours. Further signs of rapprochement include an exchange of letters between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan, who have both called for peaceful relations.
The foreign ministers of India and Pakistan made crossover visits to the UAE this weekend, days after UAE’s envoy to Washington Yousef Al Otaiba confirmed that the Gulf nation had played a role “in bringing the Kashmir escalation down and created a ceasefire, hopefully”.
During his Dubai visit, Foreign Minister Qureshi said both India and Pakistan would have to think about their bilateral ties. Pakistan never evaded talks and wanted to live in peace with all its neighbours including India, he stressed. However, he made it clear that he had no meeting scheduled with his Indian counterpart during his visit.
While addressing a press conference after visiting Pakistan pavilion at World Expo-2020 to be held later this year, Mr Qureshi termed the mega event a landmark achievement for the UAE and the entire region. “Pakistan is delighted to be a part of Expo2020 with the Pakistan Pavilion, in collaboration with the UAE government,” he said. The presence of Pakistan pavilion in the international expo was a manifestation of decades-old friendship between Pakistan and the UAE, he said, adding that it also showed the enhanced economic ties and bilateral cooperation between the two brotherly countries in different sectors.
He expressed the hope that his visit to the UAE would strengthen their bilateral ties and announced that he would have a meeting with his counterpart in the UAE on Monday.
Talking about the World Expo, Mr Qureshi said professionals among the Pakistani community in the UAE would be invited to the event to highlight the role they had played in the progress and prosperity of the Gulf country. He said he would also invite Prime Minister Imran Khan to the mega event as both countries were making an effort to organise different programmes to celebrate the 50 years of brotherly diplomatic relations.
On the occasion, he also announced that the government wanted to give the right to vote to the overseas Pakistanis and it was consulting with other political parties on the issue. “We want that overseas Pakistanis should have a role in Pakistani politics and policy making.”
Pakistan ambassador to the UAE Afzal Mahmood, consul general in Dubai Ahmad Amjad Ali and other senior officials of the embassy also accompanied the foreign minister during the tour, according to a press release.
Earlier, the foreign minister on his arrival in Dubai late Saturday night had tweeted: “Good to be in the #UAE.”
Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2021