Pakistan, Afghanistan hold political consultations after TTP calls off ceasefire

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar held meeting with the Deputy PM of Interim Afghan Govt. Abdul Salam Hanafi. Minister for Mines and Petroleum Shahabuddin Delawar was also present. — Twitter/@ForeignOfficePk

Following Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) decision to call off their months-long ceasefire with Islamabad, officials from Pakistan and Afghanistan held political consultations during Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar’s maiden visit to Kabul.

Khar, during her day-long visit to Taliban-ruled Kabul, held several meetings with the leadership of the interim Afghanistan government.

The Foreign Office said Khar, in a meeting with Afghanistan’s Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi — which was also attended by Minister for Mines and Petroleum Shahabuddin Delawar — focused on bilateral trade, connectivity, and people-to-people contacts.

Meanwhile, Khar also held political consultations with Foreign Minister of the Interim Afghan Government Amir Khan Muttaqi in Kabul.

A range of bilateral issues of common interest including cooperation in education, health, investment, regional connectivity, and socio-economic projects was also discussed.

In her engagements, the state minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to peaceful, stable, prosperous and connected Afghanistan. She reiterated Pakistan’s resolve to further deepen and strengthen multifaceted ties between the two countries and build an enduring partnership for shared prosperity.

Khar underscored the imperatives for the international community to practically engage with the interim Afghan government to help Afghanistan address the dire humanitarian situation and the challenges of reconstruction and socio-economic development. She also stressed that the unfreezing of Afghanistan’s financial assets would contribute to this end.

Recalling the immutable bonds of geography, history, culture and language, the two sides agreed on the significance of sustained bilateral political dialogue and the vital role of institutional mechanisms to advance the myriad tracks of Pakistan-Afghanistan relations.

The two sides also emphasised the importance of Afghanistan as a land bridge between Central Asia and South Asia and its pivotal role in promoting regional connectivity including through transportation links and mega energy projects such as TAPI and CASA-1000.

The state minister also met with the Commerce Minister of the Afghan Interim Government Haji Nooruddin Azizi.

“Bilateral trade and economic relations, transit and connectivity came under particular focus,” the Foreign Office said, adding that the two sides also discussed mechanisms to oversee cooperation in these areas.

Following the high-level meetings, Khar concluded her visits and headed back to Islamabad.

Pakistan to import products by Afghan women entrepreneurs

Khar, during a luncheon meeting hosted in her honour by Afghanistan’s Women Chamber of Commerce in Kabul, announced that Pakistan would give special preference to the import of products from the businesses run by the women of Afghanistan.

The state minister underlined the important role of women in society and expressed Pakistan’s keen interest in strengthening linkages between the women entrepreneurs of Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

She also expressed keen interest in strengthening linkages between women entrepreneurs in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

TTP calls off ceasefire

Announcing the end of the ceasefire, the TTP leadership cited the latest military operation against their fighters in the Lakki Marwat district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as a reason.

According to a report published in The News, Pakistani militants had become active in southern parts of KP and particularly in South Waziristan, North Waziristan, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Tank and Dera Ismail Khan.

The government had to postpone the polio campaign in Lakki Marwat district on Monday due to frequent attacks by the militants on police and operation launched against them.

Several rounds of talks were held with the Taliban leaders in Afghanistan to find an amicable solution to the years-long armed conflict.

Religious leaders and tribal leaders were also involved and sent to Kabul to persuade the Pakistani Taliban to soften their demands.

The militants had lately withdrawn from certain demands but they wanted the government to restore the previous status of erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and their armed return to Pakistan.