Foreign policy review: Kashmir, Afghanistan in focus as envoys’ conference kicks off today

PM Nawaz will share his foreign policy vision with ambassadors from nine stations


Our Correspondent August 01, 2016
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: A three-day conference of Pakistani envoys posted in key world capitals will begin today (Monday) to discuss foreign policy challenges, including the current unrest in Indian-administered Kashmir as well as strained ties with neighboring Afghanistan.

“Nine envoys of Pakistan accredited to various capitals and multilateral institutions have been invited to participate,” said a Foreign Office statement issued on Sunday. It said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will speak at the concluding session of the conference during which he will share his vision of foreign policy and be briefed on the outcome.

The envoys who have been invited are Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani (Washington DC), Ambassador Masood Khalid (Beijing), High Commissioner Abdul Basit (New Delhi), Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi (UN, New York), Ambassador Ayesha Riyaz (Vienna), Ambassador Naghmana Hashmi (EU, Brussels), Ambassador Abrar Hussain (Afghanistan), Ambassador Tehmina Janjua (UN, Geneva) and Ambassador Qazi M Khalilullah (Moscow).

The statement said the envoys’ conference is a regular feature in which Pakistan’s representatives in various regions brief the government on important developments in their respective areas of accreditation, and challenges and opportunities arising out of such developments.

“The envoys also present their recommendations towards existing foreign policy with a view to review, adapt and recalibrate policy in accordance with the prevalent strategic, political and economic trends. Last year’s envoys’ conference had focused on connectivity, and regional issues and developments,” the statement added.

Officials familiar with the agenda of the conference said the current unrest in Kashmir will be one of the key talking points. Envoys will give their respective inputs as to how to cash in on this situation, which according to officials, strengthened Pakistan’s case that Kashmir freedom struggle was indigenous.

Afghanistan will  also figure prominently during the conference, as Pakistan still looks to follow a reconciliatory approach towards its neighbour.

Another key area will be the relationship with the United States particularly in the wake of the upcoming presidential elections. Government will also get input from envoys on its ties with the European Union, particularly after Britain's move to exit from the powerful economic bloc.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2016.

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