Thursday Oct 21, 2021
KABUL: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday met interim Afghanistan Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund and conveyed Pakistan's commitment to extending humanitarian assistance to its Afghan brothers.
Qureshi was visiting Afghanistan for the first time after the Taliban took over in mid-August.
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, in a brief video clip.
Qureshi said that to further the talks carried out today, an Afghan delegation will visit Islamabad in the next few days.
In the same clip distributed to media, 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.
Qureshi was also accompanied by outgoing spy chief, Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, who is on his second visit to the Afghan capital since the Taliban took power.
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.
Deputy prime minister Maulvi Abdul Salam Hanafi also hosted a banquet in honour of Foreign Minister Qureshi and his delegation at the Arg Palace.
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.
In a statement issued earlier, the Foreign Office said Qureshi is in Kabul for a day-long visit and is set to hold important talks with the Afghan leadership.
During his meetings with top Afghan officials, the foreign minister will share Pakistan’s perspective on issues of regional peace and stability, the statement said.
The statement added that Pakistan has always stood by Afghanistan and kept the border crossing points open for trade and pedestrian crossing under COVID protocols.
Facilitative visa regime for Afghan nationals and border crossing procedures for trade and cargo have been instituted, it added. In recent months, Pakistan has provided humanitarian aid and assistance in the form of food and medicines.
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, read the statement.
On Wednesday, the Russian government hosted a high-level Taliban delegation and officials from 10 countries, including China and Pakistan, to push the group for action against Daesh fighters which it says have massed in perennially volatile Afghanistan.
In return, the Taliban — which is facing economic and humanitarian crises within its borders — urged the international community to recognise their interim government.
"Isolation of Afghanistan is not in the interest of any sides. And this has been proven in the past," the Taliban Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi told the Moscow conference.
"Therefore, we call on the international community to recognise the current government of Afghanistan."