Pakistan, Iran agree on ‘continued economic engagement’ with Afghanistan

FM Qureshi shares Islamabad’s perspective on Afghan situation with visiting Iranian deputy foreign minister


Our Correspondent October 05, 2021
Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood co-chaired the 11th session of Pakistan-Iran Bilateral Political Consultations with Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Dr Ali Bagheri Kani. PHOTO: FO

ISLAMABAD:

Pakistan and Iran on Tuesday agreed that continued economic engagement with Afghanistan is vital to avert humanitarian crises as well as economic collapse of a country that has seen decades of unrest and war.

The consensus was reached between the two sides during talks between Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and the visiting deputy foreign minister of Iran, Dr Ali Bagheri Kani.

This is the first visit by a senior Iranian official since Ebrahim Raisi became the president earlier this year.

Iran, which in the past opposed the Afghan Taliban, has now developed contacts with the group and is among the countries providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. As its deputy foreign minister held talks with authorities in Islamabad, another Iranian plane carrying essential supplies landed at Kabul airport.

Pakistan is also providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan as it believes that engaging with the Taliban government is crucial for the larger peace and stability in the region.

Read more: PM highlights importance of int’l economic engagement with Afghanistan

A statement issued by the Foreign Office said Qureshi shared Pakistan’s perspective on the latest situation in Afghanistan with the visiting Iranian deputy foreign minister.

The foreign minister underscored the need for close coordination for mutual advantage of the two countries and the region.

He said that Afghanistan required immediate provision of humanitarian assistance and that the international community should fully support the Afghan people at this critical juncture.

He stressed the importance of continued economic engagement with Afghanistan to avert economic collapse, which could lead to refugee influx and regional instability.

The two sides also discussed bilateral cooperation. Recalling fraternal relations between the two countries, the foreign minister remarked that the recent high-level exchanges have further reinforced existing ties.

Also read: Children dying of malnutrition in Afghanistan: officials

He emphasised early implementation of the steps agreed during the prime minister’s meeting with President Raisi on the margins of the SCO Summit in Dushanbe.

Foreign Minister Qureshi underlined the need for regular convening of institutional frameworks to boost trade and economic relations. He said that the upcoming session of the Joint Trade Committee would provide further impetus to efforts for strengthening economic linkages.

Qureshi thanked Iran for its steadfast support on Jammu and Kashmir, especially at the Supreme Leader level. He underlined that Iran’s support is reassuring to the oppressed people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir in their just struggle for the right to self-determination.

The deputy foreign minister thanked Qureshi for receiving him. He reaffirmed Iran’s commitment to enhance bilateral cooperation and advance shared objectives in the region. He said that Foreign Minister Dr Amir Abdollahian looked forward to his visit to Pakistan.

11th BPC session

Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood separately co-chaired the 11th session of Pakistan-Iran Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC) with Dr Kani at the Foreign Office in Islamabad.

During the meeting, the two sides reviewed entire spectrum of bilateral relations in all areas including political, economic, trade, connectivity, security, energy, education, and people-to-people exchanges, said an official statement issued on Tuesday.

The two sides also had a comprehensive exchange of views on the regional situation. The foreign secretary congratulated the Iranian side on full membership of SCO.

Welcoming the Iranian deputy foreign minister on his first visit to Pakistan after assumption of office, Foreign Secretary Mahmood expressed satisfaction at the upward trajectory in bilateral relations.

He stated that the recent high-level interactions have further enhanced common understanding on matters of mutual interest.

Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood underlined the importance of closer coordination to enhance trade and economic relations in order to achieve its true potential. It was emphasised that regular convening of various institutional mechanisms, including Joint Economic Commission and Joint Trade Committee, would be instrumental in overcoming existing challenges.

Also read: Pakistan-Iran border reopens for pedestrians

The two sides underlined complementarities in the regional projects and agreed that these would transform the region into a pivotal hub for trade, transportation links, and connectivity.

Both sides expressed satisfaction at mutual cooperation at multilateral fora, including at the UN, OIC, ECO and reaffirmed the resolve to continue collaboration on global and regional issues of common interests.

Views were exchanged on the regional situation, with particular focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Afghanistan. The foreign secretary highlighted the situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), marked by grave human rights violations and Indian attempts to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory. He thanked Iran for its consistent support for the Kashmir cause, especially by the supreme leader.

On Afghanistan, the foreign secretary briefed his Iranian counterpart on Pakistan’s contribution to efforts for peace and stability. He highlighted that after 40 years of war in Afghanistan, there was an opportunity to end the conflict and establish sustainable peace in the country.

The current situation demanded positive engagement of the international community, urgent provision of humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people, and measures to help build a sustainable economy, the FO statement quoted FS Mahmood as saying.

“It was agreed that the two countries would coordinate closely at bilateral and regional level to reinforce efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan,” it added.

Islamabad and Tehran also agreed to maintain the current momentum of high-level bilateral exchanges and strengthen mutually-beneficial cooperation in diverse fields, according to the communiqué.

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