Confirmation awaited on Ghani, Sushma’s attendance at Heart of Asia conference: FO

Spokesperson rebukes Indian envoy’s remarks on Nawaz-Ghani Paris meeting

Our Correspondent December 04, 2015
Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and India’s Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is waiting for official confirmation about the participation of Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and India’s Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj in next week’s regional conference on Afghanistan, the Foreign Office spokesperson said on Thursday.

Speaking at his weekly briefing, Qazi Khalilullah told reporters that Ghani is scheduled to jointly inaugurate the two-day Heart of Asia-Istanbul conference which begins this Tuesday. “However, confirmation of the Afghan president’s visit is still awaited,” he said.

Pakistan invites India’s FM to moot on Afghanistan

When asked whether the Indian external affairs minister will be travelling to Pakistan for the conference, Qazi said New Delhi had not officially confirmed this.

Diplomatic sources and Indian media reports have suggested that Sushma will attend the huddle in Islamabad following the recent brief meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in Paris.

Qazi said Pakistan has always emphasised the need for dialogue on all issues.

Reacting to recent remarks by India’s ambassador in Kabul regarding the meeting between Premier Nawaz and President Ghani, the FO spokesman said it is against diplomatic norms for an envoy to try to undermine the relations of his host country with a third country. The Indian envoy had reportedly said that ‘mere statements are of no help to Afghan peace talks.’

Hopes rekindle amid reports Sushma will visit Islamabad

“We expect all regional countries to support efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan,” Qazi added.

In reply to another question, Qazi said there are 2,308 Pakistanis currently serving jail sentences in Saudi Arabia. He added that “2,340 Pakistanis – most of them Hajj/Umra visa violaters – are awaiting deportation from the Kingdom.”

Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th,  2015.


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