FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi leaves for Tajikistan today

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Newly-appointed Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi addresses the media on his first day at the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad on August 20, 2018. (Photo by FAROOQ NAEEM / AFP)

According to the Foreign Office, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is heading a Pakistani delegation to the ninth Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process (HoA-IP) ministerial meeting, which begins tomorrow (Tuesday) in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

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.

The FM will conduct meetings with main regional and foreign stakeholders on the sidelines of the meeting.

Qureshi and the Tajik leadership also arranged bilateral meetings. Qureshi will meet with other Tajik dignitaries and study the full range of bilateral ties in addition to meeting with Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin.

(15 contracting nations, 17 contributing countries, and 12 supporting regional and foreign organizations) make up the (HoA-IP).

Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Turkey are all participants in the process.

After it was announced that both Qureshi and his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar will be attending the Dushanbe meeting, there have been hopes and speculations that both might hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the conference. The two countries’ most recent formal conference took place in Nepal in 2016.

However, sources close to the situation say it’s “highly unlikely” that this would happen.”Neither has Pakistan nor has India requested such a meeting on the sidelines of the conference,” the source said

The meeting cannot be ruled out completely, according to the source, who added that senior Indian and Pakistani officials have previously ‘accidentally’ bumped into each other for an informal conversation.

On the sidelines of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers conference in Bishkek in May 2019, Qureshi had an informal meeting with his then Indian counterpart, late Sushma Swaraj.

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