ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi along with a high-level delegation, including Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, visited Kabul to reassure Pakistan’s continued constructive role, together with Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries, for peace and stability in the region, as well as, economic stability of the war-ravaged country.
Qureshi and his delegation were received by Afghanistan’s Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and Pakistan Ambassador to Kabul Mansoor Ahmad Khan at the airport in Kabul.
Qureshi’s delegation comprised representatives from the Ministry of Commerce, the FBR, the PIA, NADRA, and other relevant departments.
The foreign minister’s trip to Kabul was followed by last month’s visit by the ISI chief who held discussions on various issues of mutual interest with top Taliban leadership and members of the interim cabinet.
Speaking at a news conference at the conclusion of his visit, Qureshi said that Pakistan will provide humanitarian assistance worth Rs5 billion to Afghanistan.
About the measures agreed with the Taliban leadership during his meetings in Kabul, he said that Pakistan will allow duty-free import of fresh fruits and vegetable from Afghanistan to facilitate bilateral trade.
Qureshi said that border crossings between the two countries will remain open 24/7 for trade.
He said a special lane will be established for vehicles carrying perishable goods.
He said that Afghan businessmen can get visa on arrival, while Pakistani Embassy in Kabul has been authorised to issue five-year visa for multiple entries.
About the presence of anti-Pakistan elements in Afghanistan, he said the Afghan leadership has also assured Pakistan that it will not allow anyone, including the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) to use Afghan soil against Pakistan.
He said that the interim government in Afghanistan has assured Pakistan that it will support projects such as CASA-1000, TAPI and Trans-Afghan railway project. He said that that these projects are essential for regional trade and integration.
Qureshi said that he conveyed a message to the Afghan people that Pakistan and its people stand by the Afghan people at this difficult time.
He stated that it was decided that in case of medical emergencies of the Afghans, they would be given visa on arrival.
He said that the requirement of PCR has been waived off.
Talking to reporters in Kabul along with the Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, Qureshi said that he held detailed discussions with the Taliban leadership, including the interim Prime Minister Mullah Hassan Akhund and almost all cabinet members of the Afghan interim setup.
He said that the talks were comprehensive and “result-oriented”, covering all the issues of mutual interest, including the future steps to be taken for enhancing bilateral trade, cross-border movement, and people-to-people contacts.
He said that Pakistan’s delegation was composed of members from various ministries and they held meetings of the working groups with their Afghan counterparts.
Qureshi said that it was agreed that the discussions in Kabul would be followed by a visit of the Taliban government delegation to Islamabad in the coming few days for more talks to give final shape to the discussions.
According to a statement of the Foreign Office, the foreign minister, while talking to Afghan interim Prime Minister Mullah Hassan Akhund, said that Pakistan desires durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.
He said Pakistan is determined to help Afghan brethren on humanitarian grounds, adding that Pakistan wants to enhance bilateral trade with Afghanistan.
Qureshi said that visa facilities to Afghan citizens, especially the business community, opening up of new border points, and facilitating movement are steps taken by Pakistan to facilitate the people of Afghanistan.
He expressed Pakistan’s resolve to play a constructive role, in collaboration with Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries, for peace and stability in the region.
During the meeting, views were also exchanged on matters of bilateral interest, enhancing cooperation in economic sector, including trade and commerce, as well as, various options to bring the Afghan people out of the economic crisis.
Earlier, upon arrival, Mullah Hassan Akhund welcomed Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his delegation.
The Afghan interim prime minister also thanked the Pakistani leadership for extending timely humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.
“As a close fraternal neighbour, Pakistan has always stood by Afghanistan. Pakistan kept the border crossing points open for trade and pedestrian crossing under COVID protocols,” the Foreign Office said, adding that facilitative visa regime for Afghan nationals and border crossing procedures for trade and cargo have been instituted. In recent months, Pakistan has provided humanitarian aid and assistance in the form of food stuff and medicine.
“The foreign minister’s visit reflects Pakistan’s consistent policy of supporting the brotherly Afghan people, deepening bilateral trade and economic relations, and facilitating closer people-to-people contacts,” it added.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021