Pakistan likely to attend regional moot in India

Heart of Asia-Istanbul ministerial meeting to be held in Amritsar in December

Kamran Yousaf October 24, 2016
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif shakes hands at SAARC Summit. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is likely to attend a key regional conference on Afghanistan in India in what appears to be a calculated diplomatic move at a time when the Narendra Modi administration is making desperate attempts to isolate Islamabad globally.

The Heart of Asia-Istanbul ministerial meeting is scheduled to take place in the first week of December in the Indian city of Amritsar.

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Pakistan’s participation in the meeting was doubtful in the wake of ongoing tensions with India. Islamabad was considering options after New Delhi scuttled the summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) scheduled to be held in Pakistan in November.

However, officials familiar with the development told The Express Tribune that Pakistan has no intension of following in the footsteps of India by staying away from the Heart of Asia-Istanbul conference.

“There is a growing sense among the stakeholders that Pakistan should attend the Heart of Asia-Istanbul conference,” said a senior government official while requesting anonymity.

The official pointed out that there was no point of boycotting the conference since it was about Afghanistan. “As we have stated repeatedly that Pakistan will support every endeavour that contributes towards peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he added.

However, it is unclear whether Pakistan will send Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz or downgrade its participation at the conference.

The official said Pakistan’s participation in the meeting would convey a ‘loud and clear’ message to the world that unlike India, it was in favour of reaching out to its neighbours for bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan.

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Foreign ministers from 14-member countries, including Russia, China and Turkey, are expected to attend the daylong conference meant to discuss the current Afghan situation and possible initiatives the immediate and extended neighbours of Afghanistan could undertake to restore long-term peace and stability in the war-torn country.

Senior officials from 17 supporting countries, including the United States, will also participate in the meeting to be jointly presided over by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process was established in 2011 at the initiative of Afghanistan and Turkey. Its main objective is to foster efforts for regional cooperation and connectivity with a view to promoting long-term peace and stability as well as progress and development in Afghanistan, and the region.

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Pakistan hosted the last Ministerial Conference in December last year which was also attended by Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. In fact the Afghan regional conference helped Pakistan and India to revive their stalled peace process after the meeting between Aziz and Swaraj at the sidelines.

The two countries at that time agreed to start a comprehensive bilateral dialogue, which was earlier known as composite dialogue, to discuss all outstanding issues, including Kashmir. The process, however, collapsed after an attack on the Indian airbase near the border with Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2016.


LOL | 4 years ago | Reply @Sri: so the so-called 'next super-power' India now celebrates and takes pride in support of countries like Afghan, BD & Bhutan ? Woah. that is some progress. Also, to break your shell, BD PM Hasina recently stated that BD didnot participate in SAARC due to own reasons and not because of Indian influence. Check this in news if you dont believe me. Moreover, BD Army participated in PACES tournament. Check this as well. That leaves you with support of Afghan and Bhutan. Wow. That is some achievement India. Not.
Sri Varahadev | 4 years ago | Reply If Pakistan attends the Amritsar meeting, it will only be because she has found no support from the other 12 Heart of Asia – Istanbul process countries not counting India to boycott the meeting unlike India who early on got Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan to join a boycott of the Islamabad SAARC meeting. Where has the much trumpeted martial spirit of Pakistan which places premium on Honor and Dignity gone, resulting in Pakistan attending a meeting in India for the benefit of Afghanistan, both of whom are countries that recently boycotted the SAARC meeting in Pakistan?
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