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Qureshi to Attend Heart of Asia' Conference in Tajikistan, May Hold Meeting With Jaishankar: Report

File photo of Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi

File photo of Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi

However, there was no official confirmation from New Delhi on whether Jaishankar will travel to Tajikistan for the conference or about the possible meeting with his Pakistani counterpart.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will travel to Tajikistan later in the month to participate in the Heart of Asia' conference, which is expected to be attended by his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar, sparking speculation of a possible meeting between the two amidst peace overtures from the Pakistani Army, according to a media report here. However, there was no official confirmation from New Delhi on whether Jaishankar will travel to Tajikistan for the conference or about the possible meeting with his Pakistani counterpart.

The Ninth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process is scheduled to take place on the 30th of March 2021 in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan.

Dawn newspaper reported that the participation of Jaishankar and Qureshi in the March 30th event, in the backdrop of the recent developments, has led to speculation that they could meet. "In view of recent events, we cannot say it's impossible," an official was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

The militaries of India and Pakistan on February 25 announced that they have agreed to strictly observe all agreements on ceasefire along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and other sectors. On March 18, Pakistan's powerful Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa said it was time for India and Pakistan to "bury the past and move forward". Addressing a session of the first-ever Islamabad Security Dialogue here, Gen Bajwa also said that the potential for regional peace and development always remained hostage to the disputes and issues between Pakistan and India – the two "nuclear-armed neighbours".

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"We feel it is time to bury the past and move forward," he said, adding that the responsibility for a meaningful dialogue rested with India. India last month said it desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan in an environment free of terror, hostility and violence and that the onus is on Pakistan to create an environment free of terror and hostility.

India has also told Pakistan that "talks and terror" cannot go together and has asked Islamabad to take demonstrable steps against terror groups responsible for launching various attacks on India. Ties between India and Pakistan nose-dived after a terror attack on the Pathankot Air Force base in 2016 by terror groups based in Pakistan. Subsequent attacks, including one on an Indian Army camp in Uri, further deteriorated the relationship.

The ties hit rock bottom after India's war planes pounded a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp deep inside Pakistan on February 26, 2019 in response to the Pulwama terror attack in 2019 in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed. The border tensions increased manifold after India abrogated Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two union territories in August, 2019.

first published:March 23, 2021, 18:30 IST