Islamabad, Pakistan: “Year 2019 was a successful year for Diplomacy”, this is what officials of Foreign Office Pakistan believe.
They believe that the under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pakistan’s foreign policy made strides on several fronts in the foreign policy domain. New partnerships were forged and the historic and time-tested relationships were further strengthened. As 2019 comes to an end not only ending the year but also closing out the decade, here is a brief look back even as we march forward ever confident and ever hopeful for a brighter tomorrow.
The high frequency of leadership level exchanges between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan was witnessed in year 2019. Prime Minister Imran Khan undertook at least 4 visits to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since May 2019.
Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the all-weather strategic partner China twice during 2019, which played an important role in reinforcing our time tested and deep-rooted ties. Important strides were made in the further advancement of the transformational project of CPEC.
Prime Minister Imran Khan also paid an official visit to the Republic of Turkey. The visit contributed immensely to further strengthening of the fraternal, multi-dimensional relationship with Turkey.
On the invitation of President Donald J. Trump, Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the United States of America in July. This was the first summit-level engagement between Pakistan and the United States since both leaders assumed their respective offices.
Prime Minister Imran Khan also led the Pakistan delegation during the high-level week of the UN General Assembly Session in New York in September and delivered his landmark address focused primarily on Kashmir. He also visited Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic to attend the 19th Meeting of the Council of the Heads of State (CHS) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
In 2019, the Prime Minister also undertook visits to UAE, Qatar, Iran and Bahrain. These visits have been highly successful and the dividends have been evident, both for the short and long term.
Prime Minister’s leadership level contacts were instrumental in promoting Pakistan’s positive role and contribution to the Afghan peace & reconciliation process. The Prime Minister also took the initiative to help defuse tensions in the Middle East/Gulf region and press for resolution of differences and disputes through political and diplomatic means.
Foreign Minister’s dynamic engagement
Year 2019 also witnessed Foreign Minister’s dynamic engagement with partners and interlocutors around the world. Foreign Minister Qureshi visited a number of countries including China (twice), Saudi Arabia (4 times) Turkey, Oman, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Germany, and Sri Lanka. On all these visits the Foreign Minister held wide-ranging consultations on matters of mutual interests and exchanged views on shared concerns. During his visit to Brussels in June, the Foreign Minister signed the Pakistan-EU Strategic Engagement Plan.
Foreign Minister Qureshi visited UK in connection with the Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting in July 2019. During his visit he met the British Foreign Secretary Mr Jeremy Hunt.
Foreign Minister Qureshi led the Pakistan delegation at the SCO Council of Foreign Minister’s Meeting (SCO-CFM) in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic. Separately, he met Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels.
Visits of Foreign Dignitaries
2019 was a busy year in terms of hosting foreign dignitaries in Pakistan. The Foreign Minister hosted his counterparts from China, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Luxembourg, Turkmenistan, Iran, and Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad the Special Representative of US Secretary of State for Afghanistan Reconciliation.
At the highest level, His Royal Highness, Muhammad bin Salman, the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, His Highness Sheikh Muhamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, President of Afghanistan Asharaf Ghani, President of the UN General Assembly, Ms. Maria Fernanda Espionosa, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Her Majesty Queen Maxima of the Netherlands visited Pakistan in 2019, which is reflective of our active engagement with the global community.
The Cuban Vice President, Dr. Roberto Morales Ojedavisitedon 29-30 October 2019. High Representative/Vice President of the European Union, Ms. Federica Mogherini visited Pakistan on 25-26 March 2019 for the fourth Pakistan-EU Strategic Dialogue.
Opening of Kartarpur Corridor
In line with his vision and commitment, Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated the Kartarpur Sahib Corridoron 9 November 2019 at a ceremony that was held in Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Complex, Kartarpur. Around 12,000 pilgrims were present at this ceremony. The dignitariespresent included former Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.
Pakistan hosted the third China –Afghanistan –Pakistan Foreign Minister’s Dialogue in Islamabad on 7th September. Under this platform, Joint Workshop for Junior diplomats was also conducted in Islamabad along with U19 Cricket tournament in China.
On the initiative of the Prime Minister, Torkham crossing point was inaugurated on 24/7 basis. Pakistan also hosted the first review session of Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity in June 2019.
4th review of the Enhanced Strategic Dialogue between Pakistan and the UK was held in London from 15 to 19 June 2019. The Foreign Minister led Pakistan’s delegation for the ESD.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce and the Board of Investment hosted an Envoys Conference focused on Africa on 27-28 November 2019. The Conference deliberated ways and means to enhance foreign direct investment and trade particularly, as part of “Economic Diplomacy”.
Diplomatic outreach following Indian illegal Action in IOJ&K on 5 August, 2019
Following the unilateral and illegal action by India on 5th August, 2019, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister as well as the President reached out to their counterparts across the world to inform them of Pakistan’s stance on the matter. A large number of world leaders have since publicly expressed their concerns on the issue.
The Foreign Minister addressed detailed letters to the President of the United Nations General Assembly, the Security Council and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, keeping them apprised of the evolving situation in IOJ&K. An emergency session of the contact group on Jammu & Kashmir was immediately called on Pakistan’s request on 6th August, 2019 as a result of which the OIC IPHRC delivered a strong statement condemning India’s atrocities in IOJ&K. Subsequently, in September, the OIC Contact Group spearheaded by the Foreign Minister issued a Ministerial Communique on the Jammu & Kashmir dispute, on the sidelines of the UNGA.
The Foreign Minister represented Pakistan in the 42nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.Joint statement on Jammu & Kashmir was delivered on behalf of over 50 countries on 10th September, 2019.
In his address to the United Nations General Assembly the Prime Minister extensively highlighted the Jammu & Kashmir issue and the danger its non-resolution represented for regional as well as global peace and security.
The United Nations Security Council’s meeting on 16 Auguston Jammu & Kashmir,after a gap of 55 years, was reflection of the disputed status of Jammu & Kashmir and a recognition by the international community of the gravity of the situation.Two successive public hearings on human rights situation in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir were held in the U.S. Congress as well as multiple statements by the UN Secretary General and Human Rights Commissioner, reinforced the internationally recognized disputed nature of the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission undertook debate on the situation in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir in November 2019.
The Kashmir issue was raised in other Parliaments as well, including UK, EU, France, Iran and so on. Over 80 members of U.S. Congress on the Kashmir situation made statements, while a similar number from UK Parliament expressed their concerns.
The international civil society organizations and international media validated Pakistan’s perspective on the dire human rights and humanitarian situation in occupied Jammu & Kashmir and risks to regional peace & security through their independent reporting.
Other Significant Developments in 2019
- UN declared Islamabad as a family station.
- Visa regime was liberalized to promote trade and tourism.
- Economic diplomacy remained a main pillar of foreign policy to attract foreign direct investment and promote trade.
- Saudi-Pak Supreme Coordination Councilwas established during the visit of Saudi Crown Prince; Substantial decrease in visa fee by Saudi Arabia; Initiation of Road to Makkah Project from Islamabad and increase in Hajj quota by Saudi Arabia.
- Announcement of 20 billion US$ investment commitmentsby Saudi Arabia.
- Agreement on transforming the existing relations with UAE into “Long Term Strategic Economic Partnership” and commitments of $ 10 billion investment from UAE.
- Removal of visa restrictions by Bahrain.
- Initiation of construction work of King Hamad Nursing University in Islamabad by the Government of Bahrain.
- Removal of ban on export of rice to Qatar.
- Increase in manpower export to Qatar by 100,000 and opening of Qatar Visa Centers, Islamabad and Karachi.
- Removal of visa restrictions on Pakistani Zaireen to attend Arbaeen in Iraq.
- Signing of 07 MoUs with Saudi Arabia, 01 with UAE, 03 with Qatar, 02 with Oman and 4 with Bahrain.
- Pakistan-US Women’s Council launched in September 2019.
- Canada included Pakistan in Students Direct Stream Programme. SDS is a fast track visa process for the Pakistani students.
- Pakistan and Brazil signed ‘Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation’ on 5th August 2019.
- Pakistan and Russia signed a Joint Statement on “No First Placement of Weapons in Outer Space” on 22 May 2019 in Bishkek. The Joint Statement was signed by the two Foreign Ministers and is a reflection of convergence of views between Pakistan and Russia on prevention of arms race in Outer Space.
- In December 2019, Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS) was designated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as a Collaborating Centre to support Member States on research, development and capacity building in the application of advanced and innovative nuclear technologies.
- Pakistan was re-elected as a member of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Executive Council for another two-year term (2020-2021). Pakistan’s candidature was endorsed by the Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) which was held in The Hague from 25-29 November 2019.
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched its Science Diplomacy initiative in September 2018 with the designation of a focal point (Science Diplomacy Division) to act as a liaison between national S&T stakeholders and international partners. Pakistan Mission in Toronto facilitated interaction between National Institute of Optics and Lasers of Pakistan and Princess Margaret Hospital which led to a joint project for production of cancer diagnosis and treatment equipment in Pakistan.
- MoU on Establishment of Turkmenistan – Pakistan Joint Business Council (JBC) between the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Turkmenistan (CCI of Turkmenistan) and the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI).
- Heads of – Host Government Agreements Turkmenistan – Afghanistan – Pakistan – India Gas Pipeline Project.
- During last week of May 2019, the Uzbek Deputy Prime Minister Mr. ElyorGaniev led a delegation to Islamabad to discuss possibility of a proposed railway link between Mazar-i-Sharif, Kabul and Peshawar
- President Dr. ArifAlvi visited Baku from 25-26 October,2019 to participate in 18th NAM Summit.
- HadiSoleimanpour, Secretary General Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) visited Islamabad on 13-15 March 2019.
- The 24th meeting of ECO Council of Ministers (COM), was held on 8-9 November 2019 in Antalya. The meeting was a success as all outstanding issues including the arrears by Kazakhstan and insufficient representation of some Member States were resolved amicably and a new Scale of Assessment was devised.
- Pakistan continued to maintain its strong profile at the international level through its membership to UN/international bodies with a success rate of 100% in all elections that Pakistan contested in 2019.
- Pakistan was successfully elected to numerous UN/international organizations during 2019. The major UN bodies are: Vice President of Bureau of COP 26; membership to Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) for the term 2020-23; Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for the term 2019-23; and Co-chair of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) for the year 2020; and Vice President of UN Economic and Social Council.
- Pakistan presented its first Voluntary National Review on the status of implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the country, during the High-Level Political Forum held under the auspices of the United Nations in New York in July 2019.
- Government’s resolve toward effective and thorough implementation of SDGs, particularly its initiatives for poverty alleviation and uplift of the downtrodden, was effectively put forward and widely commended by the international community.
- Bilateral Political Consultations were held with Finland (26 February 2019), Norway (3-4 April 2019), Latvia (6-7 May 2019), Russia (1-2 July 2019), Bulgaria (5 November 2019), Belarus (26 November 2019), Malta (06 December 2019), The Netherlands (09 December 2019), Poland (12 December 2019).