ISLAMABAD: The Taliban’s acting commerce minister met Pakistan’s foreign minister in Islamabad this week, the Afghan embassy said on Tuesday, where they discussed trade and how Pakistan can bring cash and other assets of thousands of Afghan citizens it has deported back to their homeland.
The visit comes less than a week after Pakistan said its move to deport hundreds of thousands of undocumented Afghans was a response to the Taliban-led administration’s reluctance to act against militants who use Afghanistan to launch attacks on Pakistan.
Taliban officials have called on Islamabad to stop deporting Afghan citizens, saying militancy is an internal matter of Pakistan.
Pakistan to speed up deportation of illegal immigrants: interim minister
“Bilateral trade, especially the goods of (Afghan) traders stranded in the Karachi port, the smooth transfer of properties of (Afghan) refugees (to Afghanistan) and related issues were discussed,” Afghanistan’s Islamabad embassy said in a statement about the acting trade minister. Haji Nooruddin Azizi’s meeting with Pakistan’s caretaker foreign minister Jalil Abbas Jilani.
Afghan officials say Pakistan has stopped more than 3,000 containers destined for Afghanistan at the Karachi port while demanding payment of more taxes and duties, causing millions of dollars in losses to traders.
The issue was raised by Afghan Industry and Trade Minister Nooruddin Azizi in a meeting with Pakistan’s interim foreign minister Jalil Abbas Jilani on Tuesday.
In the statement made by the Afghan embassy, it was stated that they talked about “the transition problems and challenges of the two countries.”
“Hundreds of these containers have been parked for several months, some have been stopped for more than a year. An official from the Afghan consulate in Peshawar said the goods inside were spoiled and traders suffered losses. AFP.
Afghan citizens returning to Afghanistan said there were restrictions on transferring cash and property to Afghanistan from Pakistan, where many had built businesses and homes for decades.
Pakistan’s foreign office said Jilani conveyed the following message: “The full potential of regional trade and connectivity can be harnessed through collective action against terrorism.”
Last month, Pakistan set a November 1 start date for the deportation of all undocumented immigrants, including hundreds of thousands of Afghans.
It has rejected calls for reconsideration from the United Nations, rights groups and Western embassies, citing security reasons.
Humanitarian agencies are alarmed that many recently returned Afghans face few resources as the cold winter sets in, and many are staying in crowded shelters near the border run by NGOs and Taliban officials, they said.
No crackdown on Afghan immigrants launched: Bugti
Pakistan’s foreign office said the Taliban acting trade minister will hold a trilateral meeting with representatives from Pakistan and Uzbekistan on Tuesday.
The agenda of the trilateral meeting was not clear, but the three countries are working on plans for commercial transit and rail links between South and Central Asia through Afghanistan.
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