FM Queshi ignores D-8 Council’s meeting for China

  • ‘Govt had not nominated anyone from key federal ministers to attend the meeting in Turkey’

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi preferred visiting China to “strike trade deals” instead of going to Turkey to attend the important session of the D-8 Council of Foreign Ministers.

The D-8 Organisation for Economic Cooperation, also known as Developing-8, is an organisation for the development of cooperation among the Islamic countries including Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Turkey. The session of D-8 Council was held at Antalya, Turkey on November 3.

Sources privy to this scribe claimed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs remained undecided about the D-8 meeting, as the government had not nominated anyone from key federal ministers to attend the meeting in Turkey. However, the government at the last moment decided to send Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar without any briefing in this regard.

According to sources, Hammad Azhar, when selected for the D-8 Council session, was unaware of the minutes of previous meetings.

“In case the foreign minister is unable to attend such meetings, a federal minister, having expertise in foreign affairs, is usually directed to represent Pakistan at international forums,” an insider said. “Pakistan must not ignore this important forum as it includes discussions with friendly countries on economic ties. Since foreign ministers of other countries attended the meeting, our foreign minister should also have visited Turkey.”

It was noted that the foreign affairs secretary had also preferred staying away from the D-8 meeting as he was accompanying the foreign minister in China. Interestingly, when contacted, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal was found unaware of the D-8 Council of Foreign Ministers’ session.

The Embassy of Pakistan in Turkey had released a statement on November 3, according to which Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar attended the said meeting on behalf of Pakistan. The minister during the session reiterated Pakistan’s strong commitment and continued support for achieving the objectives of D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation.

According to the statement, the minister highlighted the role being played by Pakistan in the D-8 for the realization of its vision, including as its chair from 2012-2017. He underscored the need for increasing the intra-D-8 trade.

Hammad Azhar also highlighted the projects underway in Pakistan as part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor. The minister of state interacted with the Turkish foreign minister on the sidelines of the conference and had a bilateral meeting with the Malaysian deputy foreign minister. Views were exchanged on increasing trade and commercial cooperation, both in the bilateral context as well as under the umbrella of the D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation.

According to a report, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, while addressing the opening ceremony of the event, referred to establishing a set-off chamber on which a mechanism free of dollar and euro was underlined by member states. Iran and Turkey during the said meeting urged the D-8 members to trade in national currencies in order to mitigate economic threats.