A group of selected Pakistani envoys, including those in India and China, today began debating key foreign policy issues in an effort to chalk out a response to the new US strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia. The three-day conference was inaugurated by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif. The conference could allow various Pakistani envoys to harmonise their understanding of the foreign policy issues facing the country, particularly after the US president last month publicly rebuked Islamabad for harbouring terror groups. The new US strategy, outlined by Donald Trump, seeks a greater development role for India in Afghanistan. Other issues to be discussed at the meet may include the BRICS declaration in China’s Xiamen city yesterday, calling Pakistan-based terror groups a security concern in the region.
Pakistan’s ambassador and high commissioners in the US, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Afghanistan, Iran, and India were attending the conference, the Foreign Office said. Its spokesman said in a brief statement that the envoys “will deliberate over a range of bilateral, regional and global dimensions of Pakistan’s foreign policy.” Diplomatic sources here said Asif in his opening remarks said there was no military solution to the ongoing conflict in neighbouring Afghanistan. He urged the envoys to discuss Pakistan’s India ties and the situation in Kashmir, and suggest how Islamabad should highlight the issue.
The sources said the envoys would discuss potential strength of Pakistan’s foreign policy and options available in view of the “current geo-political and regional situation”. They would also suggest options for a comprehensive policy to safeguard Pakistan’s interests in wake of new US strategy for the region.
Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will chair the concluding session, when the policy formulations would be presented to him.