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Saturday April 20, 2024

‘Mutual respect for sovereignty key to stable Pak-Afghan ties’

By Our Correspondent
March 10, 2024
Asif Durrani, Pakistan’s Special Representative on Afghanistan (2nd L) speaks during an event along with others. — Islamabad Post/File
Asif Durrani, Pakistan’s Special Representative on Afghanistan (2nd L) speaks during an event along with others. — Islamabad Post/File

Islamabad : Asif Durrani, Pakistan’s Special Representative on Afghanistan, has said that refusal of Afghans to cross into Pakistan with a passport defies the logic of relations between two sovereign countries.

Mr Durrani said this during his interaction with the Afghan religious, tribal, and business stakeholders, while highlighting the security threats posed by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the detrimental effects of their activities on Pakistan's security.

The interaction was part of 3-day Pak-Afghan Stakeholders Conference organised by Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) in collaboration with its Afghan partner Organisation for Economic Studies and Peace (OESP), as part of their initiative Beyond Boundaries.

Mr Durrani said that cooperation is needed in countering terrorism (CT) efforts and promoting peace in the region. He observed that terrorist groups like Daesh (ISIS) pose a threat not only to Afghanistan but also to the wider region and the world. He called for collective efforts to combat terrorism and promote sustainable regional peace.

The envoy emphasised the importance of documentation such as passports and CNICs for security purposes. He advocated the necessity of implementing biometric measures for border cross-border movement of people to bolster security and minimise threats from non-state actors.

He stressed the need for mutual respect for sovereignty between Pakistan and Afghanistan. He refuted the perception of Pakistan using coercion in its dealings with Afghanistan and said the refusal of Afghans to cross into Pakistan with a passport defies the logic of relations between two sovereign countries.

Mr Durrani accused external actors, particularly India, of supporting TTP militants, citing evidence of their involvement and wanted to address the issue of the militant outfit’s funding and external support.

He expressed Pakistan's commitment to ongoing discussions with Afghanistan and assured that efforts were underway to address existing challenges and achieve positive outcomes.

He said that the scholarships provided by the Pakistani government to Afghan students provide equal educational opportunities to them in Pakistan. He mentioned that 4,500 scholarships were announced for Afghan students under the Allama Muhammad Iqbal Scholarship program with 1,500 dedicated to Afghan women, covering various fields of study for a duration of up to five years.

Afghan students underscored that they should be given opportunities for internships in Pakistan equip them with practical hands-on experience and enable them to apply the acquired skills in their home communities.

Concerns were raised regarding the accreditation of online schools and the recognition of degrees obtained from them. Mr Durrani opined that degree recognition falls under Afghanistan's jurisdiction and suggested that these matters should be addressed internally by the Afghan government.

The requirement of a mahram (male guardian) for female students to cross the border was discussed with the envoy who advised them to plan accordingly and bring a mahram when necessary. He emphasised the importance of adhering to visa procedures and regulations.