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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will join his counterparts from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states in Dushanbe on July 14 to discuss the evolving situation in Afghanistan in wake of the US troops' withdrawal.

The foreign ministers of the SCO member states and Afghanistan will meet in the format of the SCO Afghanistan Contact Group in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on July 14, who will have an extensive discussion of the international and regional agendas, focusing Afghanistan where US President Joe Biden has announced to complete the US mission on August 31, 2021 amid looming risk of civil war.

Sources told Business Recorder that Foreign Minister Qureshi will represent Pakistan in the SCO Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, which will bring together foreign ministers of China, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

"Pakistan is among the neighbouring countries to face the direct consequences whatsoever happens in Afghanistan where Taliban have claimed to have brought more than 80 percent country in its control," a diplomatic source said.

He said Pakistan and other regional countries including China, Russia and Central Asian States have similar concerns, as a possible security vacuum in Afghanistan would pose security threats for all the countries alike.

The Afghan government representatives have also been invited to the meeting who would share their account of the developments and Afghanistan's perspective of specific aspects of cooperation with the SCO under the current circumstances.

The meeting of the SCO Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs is expected to adopt a joint statement.

"We have been calling for a political solution to the Afghan conflict since day one, as the conflict has no military solution and all the stakeholders need to take responsibility and work towards that end," a senior government official said, adding that Pakistan would continue to work with the international community for durable peace and stability in the war-torn country.

Qureshi will also visit Uzbekistan to participate in an international conference "Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity, Challenges and Opportunities" on 15-16 July to be attended by foreign ministers from the SCO member states.

The foreign minister will also hold talks with his counterparts from Uzbekistan and other Central Asian States to exchange views on issues of mutual interest, bilateral cooperation in various fields as well as regional situation, focusing Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Qureshi, according to the sources, would also meet US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad in Uzbekistan to share with him Pakistan's perspective of the evolving situation in Afghanistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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