FM Qureshi, interim Afghan PM hold bilateral talks in Kabul

KABUL: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday met interim Afghanistan Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, as he visited the country for the first time after the Taliban took over in mid-August.

The interim prime minister received Qureshi at the ARG Presidential Office, where they had a meeting in the presence of the Afghan leadership, Ambassador of Pakistan to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmad Khan said.

The discussions focused on facilitating people-to-people interaction, trade, transit, and connectivity between two brotherly nations, ⁦the ambassador said.

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 stuffs 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.”