The foreign ministers of Pakistan and India will be in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) tomorrow (Sunday), setting off speculations the top diplomats may meet as part of efforts to seek rapprochement.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi arrived in the UAE on Saturday on a three-day official visit, confirmed the Foreign Office in a statement.
The moment Qureshi landed in the Gulf country, the Indian government announced that External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar would be in Abu Dhabi for a day trip on April 18.
This means both Qureshi and Jaishankar would be in Abu Dhabi at the same time. There is no official confirmation from either sides if the two foreign ministers meet.
But the possibility of a meeting is not ruled out by some sources. The UAE’s role in seeking rapprochement between Pakistan and India has been the subject of discussions in recent weeks.
Several reports suggested that the UAE was mediating between the two countries. There were even reports that senior intelligence officials of Pakistan and India had met in Dubai in January leading to the ceasefire between the two countries along the Line of Control (LoC).
The UAE Ambassador to Washington also confirmed that his country was facilitating dialogue between the two countries. The envoy said the idea behind the UAE’s effort was to ensure that Pakistan and India have a functional relationship.
When asked about the claims, Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafiz Chaudhri in his weekly briefing on Friday did not deny such reports. He simply said states did have ways and means to communicate each other even during the times of war.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Office said during the visit, the foreign minister will meet his counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and other UAE dignitaries.
In response to queries from some media colleagues on a possible meeting between Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Minister of External Affairs of India, S Jaishankar, the spokesperson said: “No such meeting is scheduled during Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s ongoing visit to the UAE”.
The foreign minister will also meet Pakistani diaspora and interact with local and international media.
The foreign minister will hold consultations with the UAE’s leadership on all areas of bilateral cooperation, including collaboration in trade and investment, job opportunities for Pakistani workforce and the welfare of Pakistani diaspora.
He will also discuss regional and global issues of mutual interest. The UAE is home to the second largest Pakistani community abroad.
"Pakistan and the UAE enjoy strong fraternal ties, rooted deep in common faith and shared history and values. High-level visits between the two countries have played a pivotal role in providing further impetus to strengthening bilateral cooperation and collaboration on a wide range of issues," according to the Foreign Office statement.
Qureshi will also visit Iran, Qatar and Turkey as part of Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts to evolve a consensus on the Afghan situation.