During his three-day visit, the foreign minister will also attend the meeting of SCO Foreign Ministers Contact Group for Afghanistan and present Pakistan’s views on the Afghan peace process, the rapidly changing situation in the region and promotion of regional cooperation.
On the sidelines of the meeting, he will meet with foreign ministers of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Russia and China. Issues of mutual interest, including bilateral relations and promotion of regional ties will be discussed in these meetings.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi will also meet President of Tajikistan Imam Ali Rehman. The foreign minister’s visit is expected to be helpful in promoting the Afghan peace process, adopting a common approach to the law and order situation in the region, and promoting cooperation between SCO member states in multilateral areas.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Qureshi has invited his Afghan counterpart Haneef Atmar for talks in Islamabad as the Taliban make rapid territorial gains and fighting surges across Afghanistan.
Inviting Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar to visit Pakistan, Qureshi said that a “negotiated settlement” is the “best option for lasting peace” in Afghanistan.
In recent weeks, the Taliban have overrun several areas bordering five countries — Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, China and Pakistan – and captured key border crossings through which Afghanistan conducts most of its trade with Iran and Turkmenistan. The group said on Friday they had taken control of “85 percent of territory in Afghanistan,” a claim dismissed by Afghan government officials as foreign forces, including the United States, withdrew from Afghanistan after almost 20 years of fighting.
On Saturday, Qureshi said that Pakistan wishes to engage senior Afghan leaders and lead their country toward durable peace, but reiterated that “Afghans themselves will have to resolve the issues, which are impeding the peace process in their country.”
“Pakistan is ready to cooperate for facilitation,” he told reporters in Multan.
It follows a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken on Friday where the two discussed bilateral relations between their countries and agreed to “continue close coordination and cooperation” after the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan for “meaningful progress” in the peace process of the war-battered country. “The foreign minister stressed that there was a fundamental convergence between Pakistan and the United States on the need for a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement, adding that Qureshi also emphasised that “securing peace in Afghanistan was the shared responsibility of all stakeholders.”