Islamabad: Pakistan and several Central Asian states have agreed to work together and adopt a “coordinated regional approach” on Afghanistan to ensure regional security and stability.
Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is on a four-nation tour that includes visits to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran, to discuss the unfolding situation following the Taliban’s return to power and develop a “regional consensus” on Afghanistan to prevent any spillover of instability into neighbouring countries. Pakistan’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Ambassador Muhammad Sadiq, and other senior officials of the foreign office are accompanying the foreign minister.
The August 24-26 tour is also aimed at strengthening Pakistan’s engagement with Central and West Asia as Qureshi also held meetings with the top leadership during the trip. The focus was on “enhanced stability, trade and improved connectivity,” adding that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan is a prerequisite for economic cooperation.
Pakistan believes that the neighbouring countries have a “vital stake in the peace, security and stability of Afghanistan and the region” and that “it is important to coordinate closely with the neighbours to address common challenges” and advance shared goals of peace, security, stability and regional connectivity.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister is expected to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in September 2021 in Dushanbe to discuss a joint way forward on Afghanistan in consultation with key regional states.
Pakistan and Tajikistan
During the first leg of his trip, Pakistan’s foreign minister Qureshi held meetings with his Tajik counterpart as well as the President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon in Dushanbe. Tajikistan’s foreign minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin appreciated Pakistan’s initiative to reach out to neighbours of Afghanistan for a coordinated approach. They agreed to an inclusive political solution in Afghanistan. In his meeting with Tajik President, Qureshi stressed that “both Pakistan and Tajikistan would benefit immensely from a peaceful and stable Afghanistan in terms of enhanced economic cooperation and connectivity”. President Emomali concurred on a coordinated approach in Afghanistan.
Pakistan and Uzbekistan
In Tashkent, FM Qureshi exchanged views with Uzbekistan’s foreign minister Abdulaziz Kamilov and agreed that neighbours of Afghanistan should closely coordinate on regional security situation to advance shared objectives of a peaceful, prosperous and connected region. They also agreed to intensify bilateral relations and promote trade. Qureshi also held a meeting with the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev who said that “Uzbekistan was keen to develop ties with Pakistan in all areas, particularly in transport and connectivity” and a peaceful Afghanistan has tremendous economic potential for the whole region.
Pakistan and Turkmenistan
In Ashgabat, Pakistan’s delegation held a meeting with the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. Both sides stressed the need to establish a regional dialogue with a focus on stability and security of Afghanistan and the wellbeing of its people. They also agreed to strengthen economic linkages through various projects including Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project and construction of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) high-power transmission line.
Pakistan and Russia
Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had a phone conversation with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in which they agreed to closely cooperate for regional peace and security and adopt a coordinated approach on Afghanistan. They decided to cooperate under the SCO to combat terrorism and drug trafficking.