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ISLAMABAD: Acting Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi is due to visit Pakistan on Wednesday to discuss bilateral relations, trade and economic cooperation, the Afghan Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
It will be the first visit by a senior Afghan official to Pakistan since the Taliban took control on August 15.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi visited Kabul last month, announcing that a Taliban delegation would soon visit his country to address bilateral issues and further strengthen relations between the two sides.
“A high-ranking delegation led by FM Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi will visit Pakistan on November 10,” Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi said in a Twitter post on Tuesday. “The delegation will discuss improving links, economy, transit, refugees and expanding facilities for the movement of people, and will include ministers and working groups from the ministries of finance and trade. . “
Although Islamabad has not officially recognized the Taliban as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan, it is one of a handful of countries that have retained their diplomatic presence in Kabul. Confirming the visit, Pakistani Ambassador to Kabul Mansoor Ahmed Khan called it extremely important, noting that the visit comes at a time when Afghanistan faces several economic and humanitarian challenges.
“Pakistan and Afghanistan are close neighbors with an important relationship rooted in a common border, history, culture and religion,” he told Arab News.
“This is an important visit in the current scenario where Afghanistan is facing serious economic problems which can lead to a major humanitarian disaster,” he continued.
Khan said the Pakistani foreign minister led a high-level delegation to Kabul on October 21 to determine how his country could significantly help Afghanistan.
“On this occasion, we also invited the Afghan side to travel to Islamabad to discuss bilateral contacts with emphasis on humanitarian engagement, trade, transit and people-to-people movement between the two countries,” said the Pakistani envoy.
Salman Bashir, a former Pakistani foreign minister, told Arab News that the Afghan foreign minister’s visit reflected growing engagement between the two countries.
“The Afghan side is also trying to mobilize regional efforts for its socio-economic development,” he said, adding that the world should recognize that the Taliban had become a dominant force and had established their government in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan has dealt with all those who established a government in Kabul in the past and will also establish formal relations with this government,” he noted.
“In a way, Pakistan has already recognized them (officially) because we have an ambassador in Kabul who is meeting with Taliban officials,” Bashir continued. “Their foreign minister will visit us not as a member of the Taliban movement but as a senior official in his country.”
Rustam Shah Mohmand, an expert on Afghan affairs who was also Pakistan’s envoy to Kabul, said the Afghan official’s visit could pave the way for Pakistan’s official recognition of the Taliban government.
“Pakistan has no choice but to recognize the Taliban government,” he said. “They can do it after a few months, but ultimately it’s the only option.”
Mohmand said Pakistan’s postponement of the decision on the matter provided other countries with an âexcuseâ and created mistrust between Islamabad and Kabul.
“Other countries present as an excuse the fact that a neighbor (of Afghanistan) with more than two million Afghan refugees did not recognize the Taliban government,” he said. âIt provides them with a rationale as to why they shouldn’t do it either. “
Mohmand added that visa issues, border management and trade concerns were also likely to be discussed at the meeting.