DUSHANBE: The ninth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process (HoA-IP) is underway in Dushanbe, Tajikstan with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi leading the Pakistani delegation, reported Radio Pakistan on Tuesday.
Apart from the foreign minister, the Pakistani delegation includes Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood, Pakistan’s Ambassador in Tajikistan Imran Haider and senior officers of the Foreign Office.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Tuesday that apart from Pakistan there was no other nation that can claim to have “immutable bonds with Afghanistan” adding Islamabad is more “desirous of peace and progress” in the war-torn country.
Qureshi, while addressing the ninth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process (HoA-IP) in Dushanbe, Tajikstan, said Afghanistan for Pakistan is an “important neighbour and a brotherly country with strong historical links”.
The foreign minister is leading a Pakistani delegation comprising Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood, Pakistan’s Ambassador in Tajikistan Imran Haider and senior officers of the Foreign Office.
“No other nation could claim to have such immutable bonds with Afghanistan and thus more desirous of peace and progress in Afghanistan than Pakistan,” said the foreign minister.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told the participants that the Afghan peace process is at a “defining junction”.
“Having faced conflict and instability for over 40 years, Afghanistan has never been so close to turning the tide,” Pakistan’s top diplomat continued in his address.
The foreign minister reminded the participants that the meeting between Afghan parties in Doha in September 2020 was a milestone and was only possible after the US-Taliban peace agreement was signed in February 2020.
“The progress made, thus far, has indeed created a historic opportunity for the Afghan leadership to achieve an inclusive broad-based comprehensive negotiated political settlement,” said Qureshi
The foreign minister said the world had acknowledged that there was no military solution for Afghanistan, adding that this belief is needed to continue to guide the Afghan parties and the international community.
“In our outreach to Afghan leaders, across a wide spectrum, Pakistan has consistently urged them to remain constructively engaged for securing a positive outcome,” said Qureshi.
The country’s top diplomat said that Islamabad advised all the negotiating parties to take the process forward with good faith.
He added Pakistan has cautioned them “against the role of spoilers both within and outside Afghanistan”. He also expressed concern regarding the violence in the country.
“We fear that any space gained by ISIS and Al Qaeda could accentuate a threat of terrorism,” warned Qureshi. He also alerted the conference about the “risk posed by damaged infrastructure and lack of economic opportunities”.
“When the Doha peace agreement was signed last year we called it a moment of hope and optimism. It must be our collective endeavour to ensure that this hope is not dissipated,” said Qureshi.
He said going forward “flexibility and spirit of compromise would be indispensable”.
The foreign minister urged the international community to “focus on consolidating and building upon the progress made through the Doha process”.
Qureshi told the conference that besides facilitating the peace process Pakistan has extended all possible support to Afghanistan.
Earlier, the foreign minister called the Heart of Asia Istanbul Process an “important platform bringing participating and supporting countries together to advance shared goals of peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan”.
On the sidelines of the conference, Qureshi will hold consultations with key regional and international partners.
Ahead of the conference, in a conversation with APP on the sidelines of the conference, Qureshi said the world is aware of Pakistan’s stance on Afghanistan and regional politics.
Qureshi, is expected to highlight, the positive efforts of Pakistan for the Afghan peace process and Pakistan’s support for Afghanistan’s development within the regional framework at the conference.
On the sidelines of the conference, Qureshi will also hold consultations with key regional and international partners.
Qureshi, in a conversation with APP on the sidelines of the conference, said that the world knows Pakistan’s stance on Afghanistan and regional politics.
“World knows Pakistan’s stance. Pakistan’s sacrifices and efforts for peace are not hidden,” said the foreign minister. He added that Pakistan was focusing on the future of this region.
“We believe if there will be peace and stability here then our wish of regional connectivity will go forward and that will benefit Pakistan and the region,” said Pakistan’s top diplomat.
The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process was launched in 2011 and is an important platform to promote peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan through regional cooperation, confidence-building measures (CBMs), and dialogue.
“Pakistan attaches high importance to this Process and has been a regular contributor to the advancement of its objectives. Pakistan is the lead country for Disaster Management and Agriculture Development CBMs under the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process,” said the Foreign Office.