Monday Mar 29, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is leading a delegation from Pakistan to attend the ninth Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process (HoA-IP) ministerial conference which starts tomorrow (Tuesday) in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, according to the Foreign Office.
The theme is 'Strengthening Consensus for Peace and Development'.
Qureshi will deliver a statement "highlighting Pakistan’s positive contributions to the Afghan peace process and its support for Afghanistan’s development and connectivity within the regional framework,” the FO statement read.
On the sidelines of the conference, the FM will hold consultations with key regional and international partners.
Bilateral engagements are scheduled between Qureshi and the Tajik leadership. Besides holding talks with Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin, Qureshi will interact with other Tajik dignitaries and review the entire gamut of bilateral relations.
The (HoA-IP) comprises 15 participating countries, 17 supporting countries and 12 supporting regional and international organisations.
Members of the process are Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Turkey.
There have been expectations and speculations ever since it was confirmed that both Qureshi and his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar will be attending the Dushanbe meeting, that there existed a possibility of both holding a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the conference. The last formal meeting between the two countries was in 2016 in Nepal.
Sources involved in the process, however, said it is "highly unlikely" that this will happen. "Neither has Pakistan, nor has India requested such a meeting on the sidelines of the conference,” the source was quoted as saying to The News.
The meeting cannot be ruled out entirely though, the source said, adding that senior officials from India and Pakistan have, in the past, ‘accidentally’ bumped into each other for an informal chat.
In May 2019, Qureshi had an informal meeting with then Indian counterpart late Sushma Swaraj on the sidelines of the SCO Council of Foreign Minister’s meeting in Bishkek.