A senior Afghan Taliban leader has expressed the hope that Pakistan’s new government will have cordial relations with Kabul, Afghan state media reported on Tuesday.

Kandahar Governor Mullah Muhammad Shirin Akhund received Pakistan’s Chargé d’Affaires (Cd’A) and head of mission in Kabul, Ubaid ur Rehman Nizamani, in Kandahar, the spiritual centre of the Afghan Taliban on Monday.

The Pakistani envoy travelled to Kandahar to meet with Mullah Shirin, a close confidant of the Taliban supreme leader, amid a tense relationship between the two uneasy neighbours.

Afghanistan’s Bakhtar state news agency reported that the Kandahar governor “congratulated the Pakistani envoy over the holding of elections”.

This is the first time a senior and influential Taliban leader has spoken publicly about elections in Pakistan.

The Pakistani envoy also confirmed his meeting with the Kandahar governor when approached.

“We discussed matters of common interest and agreed to advance Pakistan-Afghanistan relations in all mutually beneficial areas,” Ambassador Nizamani told Dawn.com.

Bakhtar news agency quoted the Pakistani Cd’A as saying that he will “soon go to Pakistan and inform officials about his discussion in Kandahar with the foreign minister and other officials”.

“Other subjects came under discussion” as well in the meeting, according to the news agency.

The meeting can be seen as a follow-up of Mullah Shirin’s discussions in Pakistan in January when he attended a border coordination meeting at a time when Pakistan showed disappointment at Kabul’s inaction to deal with Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan militants.

Mullah Shirin had met Pakistani security officials and then caretaker foreign minister Jalil Abbas Jilani.

Pakistani officials were confident that the visit would help ease tension over the issue of the TTP, however, there was no let up in the militant outfit’s attacks after the visit.

The Pakistani envoy’s current meeting with the senior Taliban leader came just a few days after a senior Indian official met Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in Kabul.

Indian special envoy for Afghanistan JP Singh called on Muttaqi and focused on in-depth discussions on bilateral Afghan-India relations, economic and transit matters, Afghan foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi said in a post on X on March 7.

Singh was quoted as saying that “India is interested in expanding political and economic cooperation with Afghanistan and enhancing trade via Chabahar port.”

“Extending gratitude to India for its humanitarian assistance, FM Muttaqi said that in line with our balanced foreign policy, IEA seeks to strengthen political and economic relations with India as an important actor in the region,” Balkhi had said.

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