Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar will lead a delegation to Kabul for a one-day visit on Tuesday at a time when the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) called off a ceasefire agreed with Islamabad in June.
This is the first visit by a senior Pakistani official since the change of government in April and is seen as significant given the fact that the delegation is headed by a woman minister.
Official sources told The Express Tribune that Khar leading the delegation is a message for the interim Taliban government that Pakistan takes the issue of women's rights and girls' education seriously.
Pakistan shares the international community's concerns over the Afghan Taliban's lack of progress to ensure women's rights and allow girls to school despite promises.
At a recent regional meeting in Moscow, Pakistan's special envoy Ambassador Muhammad Sadiq took an unusually harsh stance against the Taliban regime.
Ambassador Sadiq said the Taliban had little to show to form an inclusive government and on women's rights and girls' education the situation had regressed.
Pakistan feels that the interim government's failure to honor commitments on these issues has led to the faltering of the international support the people of Afghanistan needed desperately against the backdrop of humanitarian and economic crises.
Also read: Pakistan gives damning assessment of Taliban’s 16-month rule
The other issue that worries Pakistan the most is the resurgence of militancy in the country. There have been surge in terrorist attacks in parts of the country particularly in the North.
Just a day before the departure of Pakistan’s delegation to Kabul, the TTP on Monday called off the truce with Islamabad and decided to resume attacks.
The development will certainly figure high on the agenda during Pakistani delegation's visit to Afghanistan. The truce was part of the negotiations brokered by Afghan Taliban between Pakistan and the TTP in June.
Pakistan never wanted to talk to the TTP but Afghan Taliban's refusal to take action against the militant outfit left the country with no option but to seek peace.
The TTP's latest move will put pressure on the interim Taliban government to act against the group and its affiliates.
Meanwhile, a statement issued by the Foreign Office, said the minister of state will hold political dialogue with the Afghan interim government in Kabul.
"Bilateral relations, including cooperation in the areas of education, trade and investment, regional connectivity, people-to-people contacts and matters related to regional security will be discussed. Minister of State will also reaffirm Pakistan’s continued commitment and support for all efforts aimed at strengthening peace and enhancing prosperity in Afghanistan," the statement added.
"As a friend and neighbour of Afghanistan, Pakistan will reaffirm its abiding solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, in particular through its efforts to ease the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and to create real opportunities for economic prosperity of Afghan men, women and children," it further said.
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