Pak foreign minister travels to Kabul, assures Rs 500 crore aid to Taliban
New Delhi, Oct 22: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi travelled to Kabul on Thursday along with spy agency ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed and held talks with the Taliban leadership and vowed to provide humanitarian assistance worth Rs 500 crore to save the Afghan people from an economic crisis. Qureshi met interim Afghanistan Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund and underlined that Pakistan wanted lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan, PTI reported.
Qureshi said Pakistan was determined to help the Afghan people to save them from an economic crisis. The United Nations has warned last month that the poverty rate in Afghanistan was soaring and public services were close to collapse.
Some 40 per cent of the country's GDP - national output - comes from aid, according to the World Bank. The US also froze some USD 10 billion of the country's central bank assets after the Taliban captured Kabul in August. Speaking to the media after the meetings, Qureshi said that he had a detailed and result-oriented discussion with the Taliban leadership, Dawn newspaper reported.
Qureshi was visiting Afghanistan for the first time after the Taliban took over in mid-August. He is the third foreign minister after those of Qatar and Uzbekistan to visit since the Taliban seized power. He said Pakistan, in collaboration with Afghanistan's neighbours, was committed to playing a constructive role for peace and stability in the region. During the day-long visit, the Pakistani delegation also held talks with Afghanistan's Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.
Earlier, Muttaqi welcomed the Pakistani delegation at the Kabul International Airport. "The talks between the two sides will cover the entire spectrum of bilateral relations and focus on ways and means to deepen cooperation in diverse areas, the Foreign Office said in Islamabad.
The Foreign Minister will also share Pakistan's perspective on issues of regional peace and stability, it said. As a close fraternal neighbour, Pakistan has always stood by Afghanistan, keeping the border crossing points open for trade and pedestrian crossing under COVID protocols, it said.
Facilitative visa regime for Afghan nationals and border crossing procedures for trade and cargo have been instituted, while in recent months Pakistan has also 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, according to FO.
The visit is taking place after the recent meeting of officials from China, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Russia in Moscow and ahead of an upcoming meeting of foreign ministers of neighbours of Afghanistan plus Russia in Tehran next week. The interim government of the Taliban has failed to win recognition of the world.
On September 4, Lt Gen Hameed, in a surprise move, dashed to Kabul as the Taliban struggled to finalise and install an inclusive government in Afghanistan. Three days after his visit, the Taliban announced an interim government. It is believed that Pakistan enjoys a clout over the Taliban and played a key role in their peace talks with the US that resulted in the Doha agreement of 2020.
Pakistan was often accused by the Afghanistan government led by President Ashraf Ghani of giving the Taliban military aid, a charge denied by Islamabad. The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan on August 15, two weeks before the US' complete troop withdrawal on August 31 after a costly two-decade war.