ISLAMABAD - Pakistan as “Host of Heart of Asia” conference is hoping for a breakthrough in securing commitments from the Afghan president and the Indian external affairs minister on roadmaps for reconciliation in Afghanistan and talks resumption with India.
The Foreign Office which is working day and night on updating participation from various countries is keenly waiting for confirmation of participation of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Indian Minister Sushma Swaraj in the two-day event.
“We are awaiting confirmation of visits of the Afghan president and the Indian external affairs minister,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah said, while responding to volley of questions during his weekly media briefing about confirmation of participation of two high-profile foreign dignitaries.
“We are awaiting confirmation of participation from the Indian side in the “Heart of Asia” Conference,” he said, adding Pakistan wants a sustained and result-oriented dialogue to discuss all issues, resolve outstanding disputes, including Kashmir, and promote bilateral cooperation with India.
The spokesperson said Islamabad was waiting for Indian response on how to move forward after the meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in Paris.
About participation of the Afghan president in the conference, the spokesperson said the conference will be jointly inaugurated by the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. However, confirmation of the Afghan president’s visit is still awaited, he added.
About the roadmap for reconciliation process in Afghanistan, he said when Afghan dignitaries are here, obviously there will be discussion on all important issues, including the peace process in Afghanistan, reiterating Pakistan is committed to facilitating an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process.
He said foreign ministers of China, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Iran and Afghanistan have so far confirmed their participation.
The spokesperson said the two-day “Heart of Asia” Conference will begin with the theme of ‘Istanbul Process – Enhanced Cooperation in Countering Security Threat and Promoting Connectivity in the heart of Asia.’
He said agenda of the conference is aimed at cementing regional ties. It is also aimed at expanding cooperation among Afghanistan and regional partners in countering terrorism and elimination of poverty and extremism.
Commenting on Daesh, he said it is a terrorist organisation and added there are no footprints of it in Pakistan. “Pakistan is committed to rooting out terrorism from the country,” he said, adding the operation Zarb-e-Azb is going on successfully. He asserted Pakistan is also cooperating at international level to eliminate terrorism by intelligence sharing. Pakistan is in favour of coordinated action against terrorists and not in favour of joint action, he averred.
He strongly condemned the terror incident in Tunisia on November 24 in which 14 precious lives of security personnel were lost. He also sympathised with the bereaved families.
Commenting on the statement of Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan, the spokesperson said it is against diplomatic norms for an Ambassador to try to undermine relations of his host country with a third country. He expected all regional countries will support efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.
Responding to another question, he said there are 2,308 Pakistanis serving sentences in jails in Saudi Arabia. He also said over 2,300 Pakistanis are awaiting deportation in various detention centres in Saudi Arabia, who were involved in Umrah and Haj visa violations.