A Pakistani delegation visits Kabul to discuss security issues. Consisting of senior Pakistani officials, the delegation recently held a meeting with Taliban officials in the Afghan capital city of Kabul. The meeting followed the closing of the most active border crossing between the two countries, which had caused a strain in their relationship. Khwaja Asif, Pakistan’s Defense Minister, was accompanied by other top officials, including Lieutenant General Nadeem Anjum, Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI. The delegation met Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Afghanistan’s acting deputy prime minister for economic affairs, and the statement issued afterward revealed that they talked about economic cooperation, regional connectivity, trade, and relations between their countries. They also expressed that political and security issues should not hinder economic ties.
Baradar emphasized the importance of developing commercial and economic relationships with Pakistan as they were in the interest of both countries. This meeting was held after Afghan authorities closed the Torkham border crossing due to Pakistan’s alleged failure to comply with its commitments. Pakistan has recently tightened border control due to security concerns, which has led to security forces at the border exchanging fire and injuring one Pakistani guard. Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated that they were not informed by their Afghan counterparts why the border crossing had been closed, and thousands of trucks remained stranded on both sides of the border, including many carrying perishable goods.
The meeting occurred when Pakistan is experiencing an increase in violence, with the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) ending its months-long ceasefire with the Pakistani government. The ceasefire had been negotiated by the Afghan Taliban, with which the TTP is allied, although the two groups maintain separate structures. Pakistan has accused armed groups of launching attacks on their country from Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the Afghan government has called on Pakistan to discuss bilateral issues instead of complaining at international conferences.
Pakistani foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari stated that the security and terrorist threat emanating from Afghanistan was the most crucial issue in the region. Bhutto-Zardari warned that failure to address terrorist activities would result in them spreading throughout the region, including Pakistan, where terrorist activity has already increased since the fall of Kabul. Despite recent tensions, Pakistani security analyst Amir Rana described the meeting between the two sides as “very encouraging” and important for assessing Kabul’s mood and potential for cooperation. Nonetheless, there is no consensus in Pakistan on what their Afghan policy should be.