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Improvement in Pakistan-Afghanistan Relations

Improvement in Afghanistan-Pakistan Relations

It seems that Kabul-Islamabad bilateral relations have been increasingly positive after many years. The leaders of both sides have finally realized that for a progressive future there is no choice but to work together.
In this regard, President Ashraf Ghani recently expressed Afghanistan’s desire to strengthen bilateral relations and trade with Pakistan. In a meeting with Pakistan’s new ambassador to Afghanistan, Ghani stressed that the Afghan government has pursued a regional connectivity policy that will benefit Pakistan, especially in transferring Central Asian energy to the country.
Meanwhile, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, visited Islamabad recently, receiving an unprecedented warm welcome from the government and people of Pakistan. During the three-day trip, he met with senior Pakistani officials, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa, President Arif Alavi and other Pakistani political officials.
It was Abdullah’s first official visit in more than a decade. A high-ranking Afghan government official’s visit to Islamabad comes as Pakistan takes another important step in improving economic relations with Afghanistan with the official opening of a customs station at the Angur Ada border crossing in the South Waziristan region. However, the number of crossings between the two countries has increased to five, which is expected to help expand bilateral trade and transit.
Also, through confidence-building measures (CBM’s), Pakistan is working diligently to address some of the concerns of Afghan officials, businessmen and refugees. For example, the National Bank of Pakistan is trying to open a branch on the Ghulam Khan border in South Waziristan, and the Khyber Bank is operating in Angur Ada to support business and facilitate business 24/7.
In addition, the new visa policy to be established by the Pakistani government for Afghans will make it easier for all Afghans to obtain visas. Under the new visa policy proposed by the Pakistani government, instead of a single-entry visa, a multiple-entry visa is provided for all Afghans. And Afghan students studying at Pakistani universities will be eligible for a 3 to 5-year long-term visa, while health visas will be issued to Afghan patients upon arrival at the border. This policy starts in Torkham and will soon be implemented in all crossing points.
In addition, Pakistan has also agreed to open 12 trade markets at border crossings, with the aim of creating livelihood opportunities for people living in and around the border area.
Targeted interventions by Islamabad to strengthen cross-border trade with Afghanistan in general and Afghanistan-Pakistan border areas in particular will have positive effects.
In addition to these trade ties and cooperation, Pakistan is also imperative for Afghanistan in order to finalize the peace talks with Taliban. The ongoing intra-Afghan talks in Qatar is at a crucial stage and its fortune will decide the future of peace and tranquility in Afghanistan and ultimately in the region. Therefore, it is vital that Afghanistan gain Pakistan’s support in playing its role in the process. Lasting peace in Afghanistan will ultimately benefit Afghanistan, its neighbors and the region as a whole.
(Sahar News)

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