Pakistan’s state minister for foreign affairs Hina Rabbani Khar led Pakistani delegation to hold talks with Taliban in Kabul. Image Credit: Afghan officials

Islamabad: Pakistan’s state minister for foreign affairs Hina Rabbani Khar is the first lady to interact with Taliban leadership in Kabul.

Hina Rabbani Khar met with Taliban foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and other officials during her one-day visit to Kabul on Tuesday.

Khar led a high-level Pakistani delegation that discussed bilateral issues including security concerns and economic cooperation with Taliban leadership. She was accompanied by Ambassador Muhammad Sadiq, Pakistan’s special envoy for Afghanistan, and Ubaid ur Rahman Nizamani, Pakistan’s Chargé d’Affaires in Kabul and other officials. Minister Khar also held a meeting with the Afghan deputy prime minister for administrative affairs Maulvi Abdul Salam Hanafi.

Wide-ranging talks

Pakistani delegation held wide-ranging talks with the Afghan government discussing cooperation in education, trade and investment, regional connectivity, and security.

Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to introduce new mechanisms to improve bilateral relations and address issues of mutual concern through dialogue. “Both sides agreed to take positive and productive steps to find solutions” to the problems, Afghan deputy foreign affairs spokesperson Hafiz Zia Takal said in a statement posted on Twitter.

He said that the Afghan foreign minister raised the issue of the release of Afghan detainees in Pakistan, cross-border movement facilities for passengers, and progress in trade and transit. “The Afghan side also showed readiness to make progress on the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline, railway, and other projects.” The Afghan statement claimed that the Pakistani side agreed to resolve visa, trade, and refugee issues.

Last week, Pakistan reopened a key border crossing with neighbouring landlocked Afghanistan for trade and pedestrian movement after a week-long closure. The Chaman border crossing, known as Friendship Gate, was shut after a deadly shooting on November 13 in which one Pakistani security personnel was killed and two others wounded.

Pakistan’s state minister for foreign affairs Hina Rabbani Khar with Afghan women entrepreneurs in Kabul on November 29, 2022. Image Credit: Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Meeting with Afghan women entrepreneurs

During a meeting with the Women’s Chamber of Commerce in Kabul, Minister Hina Rabbani Khar expressed keen interest in strengthening linkages between women entrepreneurs in Pakistan and Afghanistan. She announced that Pakistan would give special preference to the import of products by women-run businesses.

Minister Khar reaffirmed Pakistan’s “continued commitment and support” for strengthening Afghan peace and prosperity, said the foreign ministry statement. “As a friend and neighbour of Afghanistan, Pakistan will reaffirm its abiding solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, in particular through its efforts to ease the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and to create real opportunities for the economic prosperity of Afghan men, women and children,” the statement added.

Khar is the first minister to visit the Afghan capital since the government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif took over in April.