KABUL: Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi welcomes Shah Mahmood Qureshi upon his arrival at the airport.—AFP
KABUL: Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi welcomes Shah Mahmood Qureshi upon his arrival at the airport.—AFP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday announced several trade and travel concessions for Afghanistan, besides committing Rs5 billion in humanitarian aid.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi announced these steps at a press conference after returning from his first trip to Kabul since Taliban assumed control of Afghanistan following the fall of Ghani government in mid-August.

The foreign minister noted a “positive change” in Kabul as he found new Afghan leaders more open to resolving the irritants in relationship.

Mr Qureshi in his meeting with caretaker Taliban Prime Minister Mullah Hassan Akhund focused on matters related to security, trade, travel, connectivity projects, humanitarian assistance and international recognition for the Taliban regime. Following the delegation-level talks, working groups from both sides held in-depth discussions on these issues.

FM says Taliban keen to remove irritants in relationship

Several issues were decided during the talks, while others would be finalised when a Taliban delegation would visit Islamabad in next few days, according to Mr Qureshi.

He said that steps being taken by Islamabad were meant to tell the Taliban regime that Pakistan stood by them in these difficult times.

To facilitate travel, Pakistan abolished the requirements of ‘gate pass’ and Covid-19 PCR tests for Afghans travelling to Pakistan via land border. Moreover, visa on arrival facility was announced for sick Afghans coming here for treatment and business persons.

Pakistan embassy in Kabul has been given authority to grant five-year multiple entry visas to Afghan businessmen. Similarly, service fee for visa processing has been abolished till December.

Timings for pedestrian crossing at the border have been increased from 8 hours to 12 hours per day. Cargo movement through the border crossings would now continue 24 hours a day. Afghan trucks would, meanwhile, be allowed to carry goods up to Karachi port, whereas Pakistani truckers would be able to travel into Afghanistan with their cargoes.

Mr Qureshi said these steps would cause ease for the Afghans, besides promoting trade.

Islamabad has, meanwhile, allowed duty free import of fruits and vegetables from Afghanistan. Experts from the two sides would meet soon for identifying more zero rated products for import into Pakistan. Reduction in duties on items of bilateral trade was discussed.

Mr Qureshi said Pakistani side flagged its concerns about presence of fighters of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TLP) and the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) on Afghan soil.

He said he was extended categorical assurance by the Taliban that the TTP and the BLA would not be allowed to use Afghan soil for activities against Pakistan.

The foreign minister said he found the Taliban regime supportive of the connectivity projects, including CASA-1000 and TAPI gas pipeline.

He said that he announced Rs5 billion in assistance for Afghanistan. Taliban, he said, could get the material as per their own requirements and priorities.

Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

Ties with Tehran
Updated 24 Apr, 2024

Ties with Tehran

Tomorrow, if ties between Washington and Beijing nosedive, and the US asks Pakistan to reconsider CPEC, will we comply?
Working together
24 Apr, 2024

Working together

PAKISTAN’S democracy seems adrift, and no one understands this better than our politicians. The system has gone...
Farmers’ anxiety
24 Apr, 2024

Farmers’ anxiety

WHEAT prices in Punjab have plummeted far below the minimum support price owing to a bumper harvest, reckless...
By-election trends
Updated 23 Apr, 2024

By-election trends

Unless the culture of violence and rigging is rooted out, the credibility of the electoral process in Pakistan will continue to remain under a cloud.
Privatising PIA
23 Apr, 2024

Privatising PIA

FINANCE Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb’s reaffirmation that the process of disinvestment of the loss-making national...
Suffering in captivity
23 Apr, 2024

Suffering in captivity

YET another animal — a lioness — is critically ill at the Karachi Zoo. The feline, emaciated and barely able to...