Taliban receive first high-level envoy from Pakistan

Kabul, Nov 29 (EFE).- The Taliban government received Tuesday Pakistan’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, marking the first official envoy to Afghanistan under Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, to discuss key security issues amid tensions at the border.

Hina Rabbani Khar, who led a delegation comprising special representative for Afghanistan, Mohammad Sadiq Khan, and Pakistan Ambassador to Afghanistan, Obaid Rahman Nizamani, was received by Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, according to a statement the Afghan government.

The presence of Khar as head of the delegation, representing Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, is notable given that the Taliban government does not have any woman in senior positions, all occupied by fundamentalist men.

The Taliban government coming to power last year has resulted in a major setback for women, who have been excluded from secondary schools, restricted from participation in public life and the right to work.

Moreover, strict rules have been imposed on their choice of clothing, including a mandatory use of full-face veils in public.

In contrast, Khar arrived in Kabul with her hair partially uncovered, wearing only a scarf and a traditional attire.

It also marked the first senior-level visit from Pakistan under the Sharif government, which came to power in April following the removal of Imran Khan.

“Muttaqi welcomed the (…) delegation and added that the Pakistan delegation’s visit to Afghanistan is beneficial for two neighboring countries, people, and regions,” Taliban foreign ministry spokesperson Hafiz Zai Ahmad said in a statement.

Muttaqi also spoke about the release of Afghan prisoners in Pakistan, the provision of facilities to Afghans visiting the neighboring country, and the acceleration of the transit process and trade.

The Pakistani delegation on its part pledged to cooperate in assisting Afghan refugees in Pakistan, resolve problems related to travel routes and visas, and added that it will take “necessary steps to strengthen and develop trade and transit with Afghanistan,” added the statement.

“Since Afghanistan and Pakistan are two neighboring Muslim countries and have cultural commonalities, the governments of both countries should cooperate with each other and protect mutual public interests,” it further said.

After the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan last year, Pakistan was expected to improve its relations with the new government.

Instead, what followed was frequent frictions between the two sides, due to border skirmishes, a lack of general understanding, and increased operations of the Pakistani branch of the Taliban. EFE


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