Pakistan desires durable peace, stability in Afghanistan: Qureshi

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Thursday that Pakistan desired durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The foreign minister, who reached Kabul today on a one-day visit, held a meeting with Afghanistan's interim Prime Minister Mullah Hassan Akhund. This is the foreign minister's first visit to Kabul since the Taliban took over in August.

"Pakistan is determined to help Afghan brethren on humanitarian grounds. He said Pakistan wants to enhance bilateral trade with Afghanistan," FM Qureshi said during the meeting with Akhund.

The diplomat said visa facilities to Afghan citizens, especially the business community, opening up of new border points, and facilitating movement were steps taken by Pakistan to facilitate the people of Afghanistan.

"Pakistan resolves to play a constructive role, in collaboration with Afghanistan's neighbouring countries, for peace and stability in the region," the FM expressed.

Views were also exchanged on matters of bilateral interest, enhancing cooperation in economic sector, including trade and commerce, as well as various options to bring the Afghan people out of the economic crisis.

The Afghan interim prime minister also thanked the Pakistani leadership for extending timely humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.

Earlier, upon arrival, Akhund welcomed Qureshi and his high-level delegation, which also included Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt General Faiz Hameed, who visited Kabul in the immediate aftermath of its fall.

Qureshi's visit comes after prolonged problems at the Chaman border crossing, one of the main trade transit points between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which has been closed for more than two weeks, causing severe problems for truckers and exporters.

In addition, Pakistan International Airlines, the only international airline that had been operating regularly in Kabul, last week suspended flights, complaining of interference
and harassment of its staff by Taliban officials.

The border closure has hurt Afghan fruit producers near the southern city of Kandahar, with pomegranates and other export produce left to rot because trucks cannot get through to their markets across the border.During his visit, the foreign minister will also call on other leadership of the interim government in Kabul.

"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," said a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Read Qureshi calls for 'unconditional' humanitarian aid to Afghanistan

It stated that the foreign minister will utilise the opportunity and share Pakistan’s perspective on issues of regional peace and stability.

The ministry’s statement further read that as a close neighbor, Pakistan has always stood by Afghanistan, and kept the border points open for trade and pedestrian crossing under Covid protocols.

A facilitative visa regime for Afghan nationals and border crossing procedures for trade and cargo have been instituted. In recent months, Pakistan has provided humanitarian aid and assistance in the form of foodstuffs 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,” the statement read.

Earlier in October, FM Qureshi urged the international community to take concrete steps for the provision of humanitarian and economic assistance to the Afghan people.

The foreign minister said that if the situation deteriorated further in Afghanistan, it would lead to a huge outflow of Afghan refugees besides other consequences.

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