Sunday May 26, 2024

Hina Rabbani Khar visits Kabul today

Hina Rabbani Khar will lead a delegation to Kabul for a one-day visit today

By Mariana Baabar
November 29, 2022
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar. Twitter
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar. Twitter

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan today will send a crystal clear message to Kabul that as a friend and neighbour of Afghanistan, Pakistan will reaffirm its abiding solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, in particular through its ease the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and to create real opportunities for economic prosperity of Afghan men, women and children.

This message will be conveyed to the Interim Kabul regime by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar, who will lead a delegation to Kabul for a one-day visit today (Tuesday). It is rare for Pakistani dignitaries to stay overnight in Kabul.

Preparations were made by Ms Hina in advance where with emphasis on trade and investment, she held consultations and was thoroughly briefed by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. “In Kabul, the Minister of State will hold political dialogue with Afghan Interim Government. Bilateral relations, including cooperation in the areas of education, trade and investment, regional connectivity, people-to-people contacts and matters related to regional security will be discussed,” said the Foreign Office hours before she left.

There have been several high key visits to Kabul by senior Pakistani officials, the most talked about, by former ISI chief, General Faiz Hameed who resigned last week. He had visited Kabul in September last year, first by a Pakistani when Kabul fell.

A month later former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also paid a highly publicised visit to Kabul accompanied by General Faiz. Focus was, as is with Ms Khar’s visit, concentrated mostly on trade, border problems, security related issues etc. “Ms Hina Khar will certainly convey the concerns about attacks on Pakistan security forces emanating from Afghanistan, regulating the movement of people to and from trade matters in view of the increased trade. Improved clearance process and facilities on Afghan side and finally assure the Afghan side of Pakistan’s humanitarian assistance,” former foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani told The News.

Though the curtain raiser did not mention it, there is no doubt that in closed door talks, Ms Khar will raise the issue of girls’ education presently being denied to thousands of Afghan girl students.

In September in an interview to France 24 , Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had supported girls education and stated that “It would help the government of Afghanistan gain legitimacy and perhaps a path to recognition if they were to live up to those expectations, one of which is female education.”

Minister of State will also reaffirm Pakistan’s continued commitment and support for all efforts aimed at strengthening peace and enhancing prosperity in Afghanistan. When asked members of delegation who accompany the minister, the Spokeswoman told The News, “Ambassador Muhammad Sadiq, Special Envoy for Afghanistan will accompany the MoS”.

Social media is creating unnecessary hype pointing to the fact that by sending a female diplomat Pakistan is sending a message to Kabul. Pakistan in the past during the Ashraf Ghani and Hamid Karzai’s governments sent its senior diplomat Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua to Kabul. Several foreign female diplomats and those from EU and UN have been interacting with the Taliban ever since they took over.

If talks go well, the MoS could pave the way for Foreign Minister Bilawal to visit Kabul. Meanwhile today, Nobel laureate Malala Yusufzai sent a strong message to Kabul when she said, “We must stand against the Taliban’s oppression — and against any government or leader who refuses to step up and lift their eyes or open their mouths while women and girls fight alone. Today I joined others in London to march for Afghan women and girls — and to call on the UK and other powerful countries to do more to help them”.