–Istanbul moot urges international community to boost investments in Afghanistan
–Qureshi boycotts Indian minister’s speech at Afghan peace moot
ISTANBUL: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday underscored the need for achieving the goal of a secure and stable Afghanistan for the economic progress and prosperity of the entire region.
He made these remarks while addressing the 8th Ministerial meeting of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process held here.
Speaking on the occasion, Foreign Minister Qureshi said that neither any nation could claim to have stronger and more historic bonds with Afghanistan nor any country was more desirous of peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan than Pakistan.
He added that Pakistan continued to host over 3 million Afghan refugees for the last four decades, and had been playing a critical role for the development and reconstruction of Afghanistan, including by committing over $1 billion in development assistance. He highlighted the importance of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) as an important institutional framework in strengthening bilateral relations between the two sides.
The FM underlined that recent resumption of efforts for reaching peace and stability in Afghanistan was a positive development, and expressed Pakistan’s wish to see the peace process lead to inclusive intra-Afghan negotiations. At the same time, he cautioned against the “spoilers” in view of their vested interests. He urged the international community to seize the opportunity for achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan by reaching a broad regional and international consensus.
QURESHI BOYCOTTS INDIA’S SPEECH:
Meanwhile, Qureshi boycotted the speech of the Indian delegate in protest against New Delhi’s aggression in Occupied Kashmir which has turned the disputed region into a “gigantic prison” for millions of Kashmiris.
As soon as Indian Minister VK Singh opened his speech at the conference convened at Dolmabahce Palace under ‘Peace, Partnership, Prosperity’ theme, Foreign Minister Qureshi rose in his seat and walked out of the hall.
Occupied Jammu and Kashmir has been under siege since August 5 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government revoked limited autonomy for the region and clamped a curfew to stop Kashmiris’ anger from spilling on the streets. Pakistan has highlighted the Indian draconian step at every international forum, but the world community remains unmoved to the plight of Kashmiri people. Pakistan has scaled down diplomatic relations and snapped trade ties with India in protest against the move.
In September, Qureshi had boycotted the speech of Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar at a SAARC ministerial meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
MEETINGS WITH ERDOGAN, ALICE WELLS:
The foreign minister called on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the meeting. Reiterating the historic and fraternal relations between the two countries, Qureshi conveyed the warmest and sincerest wishes for the people and the Government of Turkey on behalf of the people and the Government of Pakistan on the occasion.
The FM also held a brief interaction with the US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, Alice G. Wells, on the sidelines of the meeting during which matters relating to enhancing Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral trade were discussed.
‘AFGHANISTAN IN NEED’:
Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani inaugurated the conference.
In his speech, Erdogan called on the international community to boost investments in Afghanistan during “sensitive” times the country has been going through.
“Afghanistan has been going through a sensitive period. As international community, we need to boost the investments we have been making for Afghanistan for the last 18 years,” he added.
Erdogan stressed that a significant number of the problems faced by the people in South Asia were arising from outside of their borders and said that people in this region had to struggle with the negative impacts of the developments that had “nothing to do with them”.
He also emphasised regional cooperation to tackle problems South Asia region has been facing.
“I believe that the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process is also very useful and effective in providing regional support for peace,” he said.