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Pakistan FM: Istanbul talks on Afghanistan sets tone for future

'If there is an opportunity for peace, it is today' says Pakistani FM after meeting of Heart of Asia countries

Handan Kazanci   | 10.12.2019
Pakistan FM: Istanbul talks on Afghanistan sets tone for future Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi poses for a photo during an exclusive interview in Istanbul, Turkey on December 09, 2019. ( Ahmet Bolat - Anadolu Agency )


Pakistan’s top diplomat on Monday praised a recently adopted declaration in Istanbul on the war-torn country of Afghanistan as part of a meeting of Heart of Asia countries.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the most important part of the talks was “the consensus to resolve challenges within Afghanistan.”

Qureshi was in Istanbul as part of the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process that convened at Dolmabahce Palace under the theme of Peace, Partnership, and Prosperity.

“The Istanbul declaration is a very comprehensive document that has been agreed upon and has been shared with all participants which sets the tone for the future,” he said, referring to the document adopted at the end of the meeting.

“The plan of action that has been agreed upon is a step forward and the guidelines, the working principles for the Heart of Asia are an important step forward,” he added.

“There is no military solution to Afghanistan,” he said. “What Afghanistan needs is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned forces supported by the international community.”

The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process -- a regional initiative of Afghanistan and Turkey launched in 2011 -- has two chairs, with Afghanistan as the permanent chair and a co-chair from among the member states that shifts each year.

"The process aims to promote regional security, economic and political cooperation centered on Afghanistan through dialogue and confidence-building measures," according to the organization's website.

'Stable, peaceful Afghanistan'

On recently resumed Afghan peace talks, Pakistan’s top diplomat said: “I think good progress was made in the peace talks before they were interrupted.”

“I'm glad they have resumed,” he said as peace talks between the Taliban and the U.S. restarted in the Qatari capital Doha last week.

“Pakistan has wholeheartedly supported the peace process and is also equally supportive of an intra-Afghan dialogue,” Qureshi said.

“What we are looking for is a stable, peaceful Afghanistan,” he said. “If there was an opportunity of peace, it is today.”

Noting that there was "a great possibility of reaching an agreement,” he said: “We should not fail, because God forbid, if we fail, I see regional peace and security under threat.”

Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump met his Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani during a surprise Thanksgiving visit to U.S. troops in Afghanistan, where he claimed his administration had resumed peace talks with the Taliban and the insurgent group was willing to observe a ceasefire, a claim that confused most observers.

Human rights violations in Kashmir

“Pakistan is shocked with the attitude and approach of the Indian government,” Qureshi said on the clampdown in the Kashmir region.

On Aug. 5, 2019, the Indian government scrapped the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, which allowed citizens to enact their own laws.

Qureshi also pointed out serious human rights violations in the region.

“We have highlighted these abuses” to various international organizations, including the UN and U.S. Congress.

India and Pakistan both hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over Kashmir.

Turkey-Pakistan ties to 'further develop'

The top diplomat described relations between Turkey and Pakistan as “excellent”.

“We will further develop them and give a new economic meaning to our historic ties,” he said.

“Turkey is one of our most reliable friends.

“Pakistanis love the Turks. And the Turks have a special place in their hearts for the Pakistanis, so long live Turkey-Pakistan friendship,” he added.

On an expected visit to Pakistan by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he said: “We are looking forward to his visit.”

“We are expecting this visit to take place in February 2020 and we are preparing for it,” he added.

Pakistan FM: Istanbul talks on Afghanistan sets tone for future

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