Pakistan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Sunday that no meeting with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar in Tajikistan has so far been “finalised or requested”. Both ministers are attending the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference in Dushanbe, capital of Tajikistan, on Tuesday.
It was being speculated that the two might meet on the sidelines of the conference, given the Pakistan army’s recent peace overtures.
The HoA-IP ministerial conference is a part of the Istanbul Process a regional security and cooperation initiative for stability and peace in Afghanistan. It was launched in November 2011 in Turkey.
Touchdown in Dushanbe.
Look forward to my bilateral visit and attending the Heart of Asia Conference tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/MWSqDl9FTJ
On Sunday, Qureshi told Dawn newspaper that there is no plan for any such meeting so far.
On media speculation that there have been quiet negotiations between India and Pakistan for complete resumption of diplomatic relations, Qureshi stated, “No such decision yet.”
Minister of External Affairs of India S Jaishankar also did not give a concrete answer when asked a few days ago if he would be meeting Qureshi in Tajikistan.
"My scheduling is in progress. So far I do not think any such meeting [is scheduled]," EAM Jaishankar said on March 26 at the India Economic Conclave in New Delhi.
On the other hand, the Ministry of External Affairs released a statement on Friday that said Jaishankar is expected to meet some ministers of other participating countries on the sidelines of the 9th Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process (HoA-IP) conference.
#Dushanbe: Strengthening the Consensus for Peace and Development, President @ashrafghani arrived in Tajikistan with the Afghan Government delegation to attend the 9th Heart of Asia Foreign Ministers' Conference. #Afghanistan #HeartofAsia2021 pic.twitter.com/KbfofxLKcp— Farid Mamundzay - - (@FMamundzay) March 29, 2021
Similarly, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said on Sunday that Qureshi would hold “consultations with key regional and international partners” on the sidelines of the HoA-IP conference.
India-Pakistan bilateral ties
The last meeting between India and Pakistan’s foreign ministers was in May 2019 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting. At the time, late Sushma Swaraj was the minister of external affairs of India.
At the moment, India and Pakistan do not have high commissioners in each other’s capital cities. This has been the case since relations between the two countries soured in August 2019 following the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh into two union territories.
Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army General Qamar Javed Bajwa said earlier this month that the neighbouring countries should now “bury the past and move forward.”
India too has expressed its desire to have normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan in an environment free of hostility and violence. The onus, India specified, is on Pakistan to create such an environment.
(With inputs from PTI)