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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Iraq, on Wednesday, shared their common concerns over the rising violence in Afghanistan, and stressed the need for resolving the conflict through political dialogue.

The two countries held delegation-level talks at the Foreign Office.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and visiting Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein led their respective countries delegations in the talks in which the two sides also agreed to increase trade ties, besides agreeing to convene an early meeting of the 9th meeting of the Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC).

In a joint press stakeout, the Iraqi foreign minister said his country is worried about the evolving situations in Afghanistan and insisted that the conflict should be resolved peacefully through political dialogue.

He said the two sides exchanged views about the Afghan issue and shared concerns over the situation in the war-torn country.

Referring to the Troika Plus meeting in Doha, Hussein said that the meetings are continuing and hoped that the solution will be resolved through the peace process and negotiation between the Afghan parties. “Peace in Afghanistan will affect the neighbouring countries as well, but violence in Afghanistan affects all of us,” he stated, adding that Afghanistan needs peace.

Qureshi discusses areas of mutual cooperation with Iraqi president

The Iraqi foreign minister also acknowledged Pakistan’s important role in the Afghan peace process, adding that he was confident Pakistan desires to have peace in Afghanistan and believes that various political groups to come together and work together to be partners.

He said that the two sides had an excellent meeting in which ways were discussed as to how to be partners.

Besides, issues of mutual interest, regional situations and Kashmir issue were also discussed.

About Kashmir, he said that Iraq believes that the issue should be resolved peacefully through dialogue between the two countries – Pakistan and India.

To a question, the Iraqi foreign minister stressed the need for increasing the trade relationship between the two countries, adding that the trade ties were not at the desired level.

Speaking on the occasion, Foreign Minister Qureshi said that they had agreed to convene an early meeting of the 9th session of the JMC, adding that it is a good forum to further the relationship.

He said Pakistan and Iraq had a relationship rooted in common faith, history, and shared aspirations. However, he lamented that there was a lack of engagement due to the countries’ individual problems.

“But we have reconnected with a lot of zeal to promote our bilateral relations in the days ahead and convert this excellent political relationship into a more meaningful regional and economic partnership,” he added.

Qureshi said the two sides signed an MoU to establish a bilateral political consultation mechanism for regular consultations on issues of regional and global issues, so that they can synchronise their positions at the global forums.

Responding to a question about Afghanistan and the anti-Pakistan campaign on social media, Qureshi said that Pakistan was consistently advocating a reduction in violence and continuously supporting the peace process.

“We have done everything possible to facilitate a peaceful and stable Afghanistan and will continue to do that despite the negative statements emanating from some quarters within Afghanistan. It needs to be understood why they are doing that,” he said.

President for enhanced ties with Iraq

He said that after evaluating some anti-Pakistan social media trends, a conclusion has been drawn that the bulk of it was orchestrated and not real. “It is not a natural trend, it is a bot-controlled trend and it is part of a smear campaign to divert attention from internal challenges that Afghanistan is going through,” he said, while referring to #SanctionPakistan trend on the social media.

He said Pakistan sympathised with Afghanistan and would continue to support it.

“But we would not shy away from saying what we believe in because of our clear approach. We are sincere in the peace process and we will not be apologetic because we have done whatever we could and will continue to do what we can for peace, stability and regional connectivity,” Qureshi added.

He said that the present government’s economic security paradigm and shift from geopolitics to geo-economics requires peace in the region and Afghanistan.

“That’s why are advocating peace,” he said, adding that Pakistan was not supportive of a military takeover in Afghanistan.

“Peace in Afghanistan is a shared responsibility and we cannot do it alone. We want to see reduction in violence…if a particular group [Taliban] is taking over more and more provincial capitals. Can we be held responsible for that? No, we can’t be,” Qureshi added.

He said that he also briefed his Iraqi counterpart about the gross human rights violations taking place in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

VISA POLICY FOR PAKISTANI PILGRIMS

Foreign Minister Hussein said that Iraq would soon announce its visa policy for Pakistani pilgrims visiting holy places in the country.

He said that he would discuss the issue with Iraqi interior minister upon his return to his country to make it easier for Pakistani pilgrims to visit the holy places in Iraq.

“Pilgrims from Pakistan are welcomed in Iraq and this is a mutual interest of both the countries to build a different kind of relationship between both the people of the two counties. We are going to work on it and we will resolve the problems pertaining to visas,” he added.

Foreign Minister Qureshi said that during the talks, the two sides discussed the issue of Pakistani pilgrims, particularly facilitation of visas during Muharram and the annual Arbaeen commemoration.

Iraqi foreign minister to undertake visit on August 11

He said that Pakistan has announced a new pilgrims’ management policy and sought the Iraq government’s support and cooperation in its implementation, adding that the government plans to facilitate pilgrims visiting Iraq by opening Pakistan House in Karbala, and consulates in Najaf and Karbala, along with a medical centre.

SITUATIONS IN MIDDLE EAST AND YEMEN CONFLICT

The Iraqi foreign minister said that his country is convening of the leadership level meeting of the neighbouring countries in Baghdad at the end of this month to discuss the situations and find a peaceful solution to the issues.

On Palestinian issue, Foreign Minister Hussein affirmed his country’s support to the right of self-determination for Palestinians, adding that Iraq would support any decision to be taken by the Palestinians.

With regard to the conflict in Yemen, he said that Iraq is hosting both Iranian and Saudi officials for talks to end the Yemeni conflict.

He also said Iraq’s efforts are aimed at bringing its neighbours together and focused on issues such as the Yemen conflict.

In response to a question, Foreign Minister Qureshi said that the war in Yemen was an unnecessary war and wished good luck to the Iraqi efforts to bring peace in the country. He said that Pakistan is willing to play any role for bridging the gap between the Muslim-majority countries.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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