ISLAMABAD: Stung by an unusual step which Pakistan took by closing down its consulate general in Jalalabad, Afghanistan has assured Islamabad that “a positive outcome” is expected soon.
The issue was raised by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi when his Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani telephoned him to congratulate him on taking charge as foreign minister. Qureshi informed his counterpart that Pakistan was compelled to take this step due to “a security crisis”.
“The foreign minister requested the Afghan government for restoring the previous security arrangements existing till 28 August, 2018, so that the consulate general’s normal functioning could be resumed at the earliest,” said a statement from the minister’s office.
Rabbani said that he looked forward to strengthen the Pak-Afghan bilateral relations and reassured a positive outcome soon in this regard. Qureshi showed grace and went an extra mile, when he put forth Pakistan’s position and said that till the resolution of the issue, Pakistan in the meantime would continue issuing visas to patients or students residing in the jurisdiction of the consulate as an emergency measure.
In the background is Pakistan’s decision to shut down its consulate as there was “undue intervention” from the governor of Nangarhar in diplomatic affairs of Pakistan. It is not unusual in Afghanistan for provinces to be independent of policies of Kabul and many strongmen are not even on speaking terms with government officials.
Pakistan had told the Afghan government that intervention of Governor Hayatullah Hayat is a “violation of Vienna Convention of Consular Relations 1963”. Pakistan had requested Afghanistan’s ministry of foreign affairs to bar the Nangarhar governor from interfering in the affairs of its consulate general. The Pakistani embassy has also urged Afghan authorities to provide security to the consulate.
While thanking his Afghan counterpart, the foreign minister reiterated that as close neighbours, peace and prosperity of the two countries are interlinked while highlighting the need to work together for achieving lasting peace in the region.
Both sides appreciated recent improvement in relations since the launch of APAPPS process in May 2018. It was noted that the framework provided the most comprehensive institutional mechanism to discuss all mutual issues. The two leaders agreed that the next round of APAPPS would be held soon in Islamabad. They also welcomed the holding of joint Pak-Afghan Ulema Conference in Islamabad, the dates for which are being finalised. Rabbani also extended an invitation to Shah Mahmood Qureshi to visit Afghanistan at an early date, which he accepted.