Islamabad, Jan 30 (PTI) National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf travelled to Afghanistan where he discussed trade ties and other issues with the top Afghan Taliban leaders who assured him that the Afghan soil would not be used against its neighbours, including Pakistan.
Yusuf, who led a high-level inter-ministerial delegation to Kabul on January 29-30, held talks with Afghanistan’s acting Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi and Acting Foreign Minister Mullah Amir Khan Muttaqi.
Hanafi assured the delegation led by Yusuf that the Afghan soil would not be used against its neighbours, including Pakistan, Dawn newspaper reported.
“The policy of the Islamic Emirate (of Afghanistan) is clear that we will not allow anyone to use Afghan soil against [our] neighbours and other countries,” a statement issued by the presidential palace in Kabul quoted Hanafi as saying, according to the paper.
“We also want similar action from others,” Hanafi said, while hosting the inter-ministerial delegation in the Afghan capital.
Pakistan is yet to recognise Afghanistan’s interim government led by the Taliban.
Yusuf – the third senior Pakistani official to visit Kabul since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in August – just before his visit said that Pakistan was “not completely optimistic” of the Taliban government as organised terrorist networks are still operating in the war-torn nation and the Afghan soil is still being used against his country.
The top security official made the remarks while briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs here on Thursday where he spoke about the threat posed to Pakistan by the presence of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Afghanistan.
His remarks came in the wake of spike in terrorist attacks in Pakistan since August after the Taliban came to power, belying Islamabad’s expectations that they would take harsh measures against their former comrades-in-arms and expel them.
The Afghan Taliban had persuaded Pakistan to enter into talks with the TTP, which Islamabad did with the vain hope that the Afghan Taliban would use their influence to tame the militant group.
The TTP announced a month-long ceasefire on November 9 and presented tough conditions, including implementation of their brand of Shariah and release of all detained rebels. The government faced a backlash and refused to accept the demands and the TTP refused to extend the ceasefire once it ended.
The TTP, known as the Pakistan Taliban, was set up as an umbrella group of several militant outfits in 2007. Its main aim is to impose its strict brand of Islam across Pakistan.
The group, which is believed to be close to al-Qaeda, has been blamed for several deadly attacks across Pakistan, including an attack on the Army headquarters in 2009, assaults on military bases and the 2008 bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.
Meanwhile, a statement issued by the NSA office here on Sunday said that during his visit to Afghanistan, Yusuf, who also heads Afghanistan Inter-Ministerial Coordination Cell (AICC), discussed trade ties and other issues with the leaders of the host country.
“The objective of the visit was to discuss with Afghan leadership the humanitarian requirements of the country and Pakistan’s proposals for deepening economic engagement to overcome the current challenges Afghanistan is facing,” it said.
The statement confirmed Yusuf’s meetings with Hanafi and Acting Foreign Minister Muttaqi, but said they discussed the current situation in Afghanistan and strengthening of bilateral relations between the two countries.
He also held delegation-level meetings with other relevant Afghan Ministers and senior officials dealing with humanitarian and economic issues.
The visit yielded substantive outcomes in terms of forward movement on trade facilitation and social sector support as both sides agreed to establish a National Level Coordination Mechanism for enhancing facilitation at Border Crossing Points, it said.
They also agreed to initiate barter trade, modalities for which will be worked out immediately.
During the two-day visit, Pakistan offered Afghanistan capacity building and training support in multiple sectors including Health, Education, Banking, Customs, Railways and Aviation, among others, it added.
Both sides also reiterated their commitment to early completion of the three major connectivity projects, CASA- 1000, the Turkmenistan– Afghanistan–Pakistan–India (TAPI) pipeline, and Trans-Afghan Rail project.
Afghanistan and Pakistan emphasized their commitment to ensuring peace and stability in both countries, the statement added. PTI SH ZH ZH
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