ISI chief visits Kabul to meet Taliban leadership

Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed reportedly meets top Afghan leadership and certain foreign envoys


Kamran Yousuf September 05, 2021

ISLAMABAD:

The head of Pakistan’s premier spy agency, Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed, visited Kabul on Saturday, the first visit by a senior Pakistani official since the Afghan capital fell to the Taliban and a chaotic exit of the US-led foreign forces from the war-torn country.

The visits of the director general of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) are usually kept under wraps but it wasn’t the case with his trip to Kabul. Images circulating on social media showed Gen Faiz was having tea at Kabul’s Serena Hotel while Pakistan’s Ambassador Mansoor Ali Khan could also be seen.

In response to a question from a foreign journalist, the DG ISI said the purpose of his visit was to seek “peace and stability” in Afghanistan. He added that he was here to meet the Pakistani ambassador to get the first-hand account of the ground situation.

However, it is believed that the DG ISI met the top Afghan leadership to discuss the current situation. He reportedly also held meetings with certain foreign envoys in Kabul.
Although no official details were available, one of the objectives of his visit was to discuss the arrangements and mechanism for the safe passage of foreign nationals, who are still stranded in Afghanistan.

Recently, the foreign ministers of Germany, Britain and The Netherlands visited Pakistan, while the Italian foreign minister is also due next week. The flurry of visits was aimed at seeking Pakistan’s help in securing the exit of foreign nationals.

Although the Western countries have evacuated thousands of their nationals and Afghans who worked for them in a massive evacuation operation in the second half of last month, there are still foreign nationals who are left behind.

The DG ISI was only the second head of the foreign spy agency to visit Kabul since the Taliban took over the Afghan capital on August 15. Earlier, the CIA chief visited Kabul but the visit was kept secret.
The visit of Gen Faiz also highlights the fact that Pakistan is ready to embrace the “new realities” in

Afghanistan and despite reservations by the West, Islamabad is willing to work with the new government.

At a joint news conference with the British Foreign Secretary, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi termed the Afghan Taliban a “new reality”, saying that Pakistan had no other option but to work with the neighbouring country.

Pakistan is keen to assist the incoming government in terms of reorganising the army and security forces. Islamabad made similar offers and showed willingness to sign security pact as well as bilateral agreement between the intelligence agencies of the two countries but all those efforts could not achieve the desired results given the trust deficit between the two neighbours.

Now, with the Afghan Taliban all set to form the next government, Pakistan would renew its offer and hope that the response would be positive from the other side.

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