News Analysis |
Shah Mahmood Qureshi met Qatari officials in Doha to discuss the developing situation in Afghanistan alongside other matters of mutual interest. Foreign Minister Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. Qatar has been instrumental over the past 4 years in providing the logistic support for the on-going dialogue between Taliban and USA. The agenda of the meeting was inclusive to the bilateral trade relations between both countries and Qatar’s commitment to allow more Pakistani workforce into the Gulf country.
Qatar, with the agreement of Washington, opened an office for the insurgent Afghan group back in 2013. The group got the legitimacy after being ousted from power due to the U.S response to 9/11 attacks. Even at that time, a dialogue process was in progress between the Karzai government and the Taliban fighters. The Taliban flag flying outside and signs everywhere proclaiming the office to represent the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai took the symbolism as an affront. For Karzai and his government, the announcement, the flags, and the signs brought the enemy unwanted legitimacy. Instead of being treated as insurgents, the Taliban got the symbols of statehood. Even he had already warned both the USA and Qatar not to allow the group such symbolic victories which would act as the morale booster for Taliban. But it is the same office which has made, through the rigorous and tedious process, the dialogue between the Taliban and the United States of America possible.
Shah Mehmood’s marathon trip
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had been on the marathon international tour for the last 4 days which started with Kabul and Tehran. He then went to Beijing before finally reaching out to the Russians for the broad understanding of the interests of all the regional powers regarding the peace situation in Afghanistan. With the emergence of Islamic States from the cadres of the Afghan Taliban, all the regional powers are concerned about the long-term prospects of internal and regional security.
The changing strategic dynamics of South Asia in which alliances are shuffling has made the turn around in Afghanistan quite significant for Pakistan. The credit for bringing the Taliban to the talking table has widely been given to Pakistan by all the major stakeholders in general and the United States of America in particular. While it is important for Pakistan to safeguard its national interest, the developing strategic paradigm had made it equally important to keep the friends close. The net effect of the recent tours which Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi carried out would be visible when the dialogue process would pick up the pace. As of now, there is no clear direction which the discourse might lead to as the fighting is as vehement in Afghanistan as before.
Qatar has been one of the countries which have responded positively to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s efforts to broaden the bilateral trade ties with gulf and other countries. The small city-state on the Arabian Peninsula even vowed to increase the intake of Pakistani workers. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on the other hand, has expressed every form of support for Pakistan during the upcoming mega event 2021 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
So far, under the leadership of Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the diplomacy of Pakistan has been quite proactive and evidently on the right track. It was eventually the need of the hour as well after years of monotonous approach in the Foreign Service which has cost the country big times in terms of both reputation and economy.