New Afghan FM arrives today on first visit to Pakistan

Published November 10, 2021
In this file photo, Afghanistan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi meets Chinese delegation led by Wang Yu in Kabul on Sep 14, 2021. — Picture courtesy: Shen Shiwei/Twitter
In this file photo, Afghanistan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi meets Chinese delegation led by Wang Yu in Kabul on Sep 14, 2021. — Picture courtesy: Shen Shiwei/Twitter

ISLAMABAD: Afghan Interim Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi will arrive here on Wednesday (today) on a three-day visit to Pakistan as head of a delegation for wide-ranging talks with the authorities.

A statement issued by the Foreign Office said the visit was taking place as a follow-up to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s visit to Kabul on Oct 21.

The talks will centre on Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, with the focus on enhanced trade, facilitation of transit trade, cross-border movement, land and aviation links, people-to-people contacts and regional connectivity.

“In view of the prevalent situation, Pakistan has been urging the international community to urgently provide humanitarian assistance and economic support to alleviate the sufferings of the Afghan people. For its part, Pakistan is extending humanitarian and economic assistance to the brotherly people of Afghanistan,” the statement said.

It said Pakistan remained committed to supporting a peaceful, stable, sovereign, prosperous and connected Afghanistan.

This would be the first visit to Pakistan by an Afghan cabinet member after the Taliban regained power in August.

Mr Muttaqi will hold talks with Foreign Minister Qureshi and attend a meeting of the Troika Plus scheduled to be held on Thursday (tomorrow).

Earlier in the day, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Kabul Abdul Qahar Balkhi said a senior-level delegation led by Mr Muttaqi will travel to Pakistan on Nov 10.

“(The) delegation will discuss enhancing ties, economy, transit, refugees & expanding facilities for the movement of people, & will include ministers and working groups from Finance and Trade Ministries,” Mr Balkhi tweeted.

During a visit to Ankara last month, Mr Muttaqi had said official recognition of the Taliban government and international aid were of critical importance for Afghanistan’s economic recovery.

Accompanied by Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, Mr Qureshi had visited Kabul last month. The foreign minister had held detailed discussions with Mr Muttaqi during his visit which, the officials say, laid the foundation of a multi-sectoral engagement between the two countries in the days to come which could usher in an era of enhanced bilateral economic cooperation and people-to-people ties.

Both sides had agreed to revive existing bilateral mechanisms and institutional frameworks such as the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) to sort out differences and to remove hurdles in implementation of decisions on both sides.

The APAPPS, a bilateral mechanism of dialogue, was operationalised in 2018 during the former government of Ashraf Ghani, focusing on “politico-diplomatic, military-to-military coordination, intelligence cooperation, and economy and refugee issues”.

Under the APAPPS principles, the two countries have committed to undertaking effective actions against fugitives and irreconcilable elements posing security threat to either of the two countries.

Both countries had also agreed to commit to denying the use of their respective territory by any country, network, group or individuals for anti-state activities against either country.

Pakistan has not recognised the Taliban government. However, Taliban officials have been allowed to take control of Afghan embassy in Islamabad and consulates in Peshawar, Karachi and Quetta.

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2021

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