Pakistan on Tuesday established first formal and public contact with the interim Afghan government when its envoy met acting Afghan Foreign Minister Maulvi Amir Khan Mutaqi, Ambassador Mansoor Ahmed Khan said.
Although the two sides have been in regular contact even before the announcement of interim Afghan government announced last week – 23 days after the fall of Kabul – the meeting on Tuesday was the first between a Pakistani official and the representative of the interim Afghan government.
“Called on the new Afghan Foreign Minister H.E Amir Khan Mutaqi and discussed strengthening bilateral cooperation particularly facilitating humanitarian, economic and people to people exchanges,” Ambassador Khan said in a tweet after the meeting.
Khan was also the first foreign envoy to meet the Afghan foreign minister, suggesting Pakistan’s policy of staying engaged with the new dispensation in Kabul. Observers also see the development as de facto recognition of the Taliban government by Pakistan.
The meeting, according to the Taliban spokesperson, took place at the ministry of foreign affairs of Afghanistan. Sohail Shahin said the two discussed “smooth movement of people at Torkham and Spin Boldak and problems of Afghan refugees in Pakistan”.
Pakistan as a matter of policy is not accepting any new refugees from Afghanistan and only permitting people who need medical treatment, foreigners and evacuees who have valid travel documents through its land routes with Afghanistan.
The Torkham, which is the main border crossing, was closed for pedestrian movement by the Afghan Taliban on Monday. However, the border was reopened on Tuesday, confirmed the Pakistani officials.
The Taliban spokesperson said the Pakistan ambassador promised to facilitate the movement of the people at Torkham and Spin Boldak and resolve problems faced by the Afghan refugees there. The two also discussed the bilateral relationship and the humanitarian aid, as per the Taliban spokesperson.
Pakistan is among the first countries to dispatched humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, whose economy is on the verge of collapse. Pakistan is also at the forefront of seeking humanitarian and political assistance for Afghanistan as it fears that economic collapse and the humanitarian crisis would lead to mass exodus.
The UN secretary-general at the Geneva conference on Monday warned that the essential food supplies could dry up by the end of this month. He also said the humanitarian situation was so dire in Afghanistan that every third Afghan did not know where he/she would get the next meal.
The international community on Monday pledged $1.2 billion assistance, a move welcomed by the Afghan Taliban government. The acting foreign minister in his maiden press conference, however, added that the assistance should be distributed through the government.