Thursday June 13, 2024

Qureshi, DG ISI visit Kabul, discuss important matters

By Mariana Baabar & News Desk
October 22, 2021
Qureshi, DG ISI visit Kabul, discuss important matters

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday reiterated once again that its bilateral relations with Afghanistan remain consistent and it will continue to support the people of Afghanistan, deepen bilateral trade and economic relations, and facilitate closer people-to people contacts.

Islamabad says that in these very difficult times it is all the more important to support the people of Afghanistan, who will remember who reached out to them in time of need. Kabul has also been told that immediate assistance in kind worth Rs5 billion has been assured. The Afghan leadership thanked Pakistan on humanitarian aid.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi visited Kabul on Thursday, the first high-level visit by Pakistan after the Taliban formed the new caretaker government. Included in his delegation were bureaucrats from different ministries and security agencies. DG ISI General Faiz Hameed also accompanied him.

A delegation from Kabul is expected to visit Islamabad in a few days where all issues discussed during the Thursday’s visit will be given a final shape. However, Qureshi made it clear that Pakistan was not ready to recognise the Taliban government immediately and any decision would be taken on a regional basis .

“The Taliban understand this and as a good friend we told them the expectations of the international community which include inclusive government, human rights, women rights, girl education, not providing safe havens for terrorists . They understand this,” said the foreign minister.

Pakistan, he added, was also helping in ironing out differences that Afghanistan and Tajikistan were facing because of events in the Panjsher valley. Another issue of great importance for Pakistan and neighbouring states is the use of Afghan soil for militants to launch attacks and this was also raised during talks.

“We felt reassured as the Taliban told us firmly that Pakistan should not have any apprehensions that TTP or any other group would be allowed to use Afghanistan as a launching pad for attacks,” said Qureshi.

In this regard, concerns of Russia, Iran and China from militant groups based in Afghanistan were also raised. In matters relating to border security and intelligence sharing, working groups were formed which took up issues and DG ISI also participated in one of these working groups.

Several incentives for Afghanistan were decided on Thursday to help facilitate their citizens, said the minister. This includes doing away with special passes which had to be acquired from the Ministry of Interior and which the Taliban complained created bottlenecks.

“Medical cases, especially emergency ones, will now get visa on arrival and the system of PCR has also been done away with though rapid tests will continue. Till December 31, service charges by Nadra for online visas will also be waived to provide relief. Afghan businessmen will get visa on arrival for 30 days as well,” he added.

To a question whether Pakistan would participate in a conference on Afghanistan in Delhi organised by the Indian NSA, the minister said that the government was still deliberating on the issue and Delhi would be notified at an appropriate time.

However, he noted that at the moment bilateral ties were not that warm and the issue of IHK and the conditions of the Kashmiris was there for all to see. Shah Mahmood met interim Afghan Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund and conveyed Pakistan's commitment to extending humanitarian assistance to its Afghan brothers.

In the meeting with Akhund, issues of mutual interest were discussed, according to the Foreign Office. The foreign minister said Pakistan wanted lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. He mentioned in this regard several steps by the government including visa facilities for Afghan citizens, especially traders, and the establishment of new border points to facilitate movement.

Qureshi said Pakistan, in collaboration with Afghanistan’s neighbours, was committed to playing a constructive role for peace and stability in the region. "There were detailed talks with the Afghan Taliban leadership which were attended by the prime minister and almost all cabinet ministers," Qureshi said afterwards.

Qureshi's Afghan counterpart, Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, called it a "very good interaction" during which trade and reopening the borders was discussed. "We are very hopeful that all our trade issues will be resolved very soon, borders will open again," he said.

Ambassador of Pakistan to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmad Khan said the interim prime minister received Qureshi at the ARG Presidential Office, where they had a meeting in the presence of the Afghan leadership.

The discussions focused on facilitating people-to-people interaction, trade, transit, and connectivity between two brotherly nations, the ambassador said. Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Muhammad Sadiq, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, Pakistani Ambassador to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmad Khan, senior military leadership, and other members of the Pakistani delegation were also present in the meeting.

Qureshi is the third foreign minister after those of Qatar and Uzbekistan to visit since the Taliban took power after ousting Ashraf Ghani's regime. Earlier, the Foreign Office said that Pakistan’s delegation was received by Amir Khan Muttaqi and Mansoor Ahmad Khan at the airport.

Later, Afghan Deputy Prime Minister Abdus Salam Hanafi hosted a luncheon in honour of Qureshi and his delegation. A large number of members of the Afghan interim cabinet were present on the occasion. Hanafi welcomed the foreign minister to Kabul, while Qureshi thanked the Taliban leadership for their "warm hospitality", according to an FO statement. Qureshi said Pakistan was determined to help the Afghan people to save them from economic crisis.