ISLAMABAD - Just two days after his return from a high-profile US visit, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is now all set to leave for London to attend the 9th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) being jointly hosted by Malaysia and Britain from October 29 to October 31.
Sharif will be among the main speakers at the forum that will bring together some 17 world leaders, five central bank governors and more than 1,500 global economists, corporate managers, investors, regional experts, academics, scholars and policy makers from 120 countries.
In his address, the PM will highlight the need for greater cooperation among the Muslim countries in diverse areas and pitch for investment in Pakistan, according to officials.
During his three-day official visit starting on Monday, he will also hold some important bilateral meetings with heads of states and governments in addition to business leaders.
On the cards is a crucial trilateral summit on Afghanistan next week, being hosted by the British prime minister, among David Cameron, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The UK trilateral peace initiative, the fourth since summer 2012, is aimed at strengthening cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan and to encourage an Afghan-led peace deal for Afghanistan. The last trilateral moot was held in February.
The trilateral session between the three leaders scheduled for October 29 (Tuesday) on the sidelines of the Forum will be a major focus of media attention. It is going to take place after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s recently concluded visit to Washington where he had in-depth discussions with US President, top American officials and lawmakers on the situation in Afghanistan, particularly Pakistan’s role in the reconciliation process and post-2014 scenario after drawdown of the US-led coalition troops from Afghanistan.
The trilateral talks are to be held on October 29, it is learnt. During the three-way talks, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to share with the two leaders his government’s plan to engage the Taliban just as he did a few days back with President Obama and his top aides, who, sources say, were “supportive”.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will also elaborate the efforts made by his government so far to facilitate the reconciliation process in Afghanistan and reiterate Pakistan’s support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.
Nawaz Sharif and Karzai last met on August 26 when the latter came to Islamabad to seek Pakistan’s active support and greater cooperation in the Afghan peace and reconciliation process. Their upcoming meeting assumes special significance as it will be their first interaction after Islamabad released top Taliban commander Abdul Baradar, considered by them key to success of the ongoing reconciliation process, on repeated requests of Kabul and the Afghan High Peace Council.
Prime Minister’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz indicated in an interview on Friday last that talks with Taliban would start in the next few days as part of a comprehensive anti-terrorism strategy evolved by the government through national consensus.
Foreign Office Spokesperson Aizaz Ahmed told a news briefing that the US had appreciated “the positive role that Pakistan is playing” in the Afghan reconciliation process.
“Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States are working together to carry forward the process of reconciliation in order to have a lasting peace in Afghanistan, which is so essential for peace and security in our region,” he noted.
On the margins of the prestigious Forum, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is also likely to meet his Malaysian counterpart, King Abdullah of Jordan, Sultan of Brunei and Indonesian president.
This is the first time that the WIEF is being held in a non-Muslim European capital. According to its organisers, the aim of the Forum is to boost trade ties between Islamic and European states, explore London’s future as a leading global business hub for Islamic finance and discuss new solutions to global challenges.