Speech by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, His Excellency Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi.

Date: 11th November 2021

Location: Islamabad, Pakistan

Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem

I thank the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the honorable Shah Mahmood Qureishi, for inviting us to Islamabad. I extend my salutations and best regards to all those present.

If I may, I would also like to express our gratitude to the government of Pakistan for the recent humanitarian assistance given to the people of Afghanistan. Afghans view assistance of neighboring Pakistan with great regard. For over forty years Pakistan has hosted Afghan refugees and our people have spent a dignified life here – thank you very much!

During our visit to Pakistan, we will hold discussions and talks about bilateral relations, new chapter of engagement, security, mutual trade, passage for movement and interaction between both people.

Afghanistan and Pakistan not only have religious, cultural, lingual and historic commonalities but also share the longest border. The common religion, culture, history and geography encourages us to maintain close relations. I propose that we make use of our commonalities moving forward and make the most of the available economic opportunities to improve the lives of both people.

New development in Afghanistan

Afghanistan witnessed yet another positive development on the 15th of August. The forces of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan managed to unite and gather the nation around itself in a very short period. All praise belongs to Allah, foreign forces also withdrew from Afghanistan on the basis of the Doha Agreement.

Many Afghan ethnicities are represented in our cabinet, and five hundred thousand civil servants of the previous administration are serving with us with none fired from duty due to political reasons.

Fortunately, Afghanistan now has a united, central and responsible government that is a representative of all Afghans. Our leader is exerting efforts to improve government affairs. I, as a representative of such a responsible and committed government, assure all neighbors and specifically you that none shall be harmed from our soil, and as a sovereign and independent government, we expect the same from others.

Relations with Pakistan

Pakistan has always maintained that peace in Afghanistan means peace in Pakistan. We say that peace in Pakistan means peace in Afghanistan, and that security in both nations is in the interest of the entire region. Security and stability in our shared region is in the interest of both sides. We must work towards a win-win situation in the relations of both countries.

Security

If prosperity prevails in the region, both our nations will benefit, but God forbid, if conflict and chaos prevail, we will be mutually harmed. All of us witnessed the harm and losses caused by conflict in our region. From now onwards, it is imperative we take a united stand against all possible threats to our region and not allow spread of insecurity once again that leads to more suffering for our people.

Fortunately, Tahreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and the government of Pakistan have agreed to a ceasefire with Afghan intermediation. I view this development is in the interest of the entire region.

The new Afghan government has mediated these talks at the behest of both sides. We are overjoyed to be able to play a role in regional security and stability. The new Afghan government stands ready to provide all facilities needed for even more progress in this area.

Mutual Trade

Alongside other commonalities, trade is another factor that demands both governments maintain ties on the basis of closeness and cooperation. Afghanistan and Pakistan can provide good markets for each other’s goods and can greatly assist one another in area of transit. The easiest and shortest route for Afghan products to reach international markets is through Pakistani ports, and conversely, the easiest and shortest trading route between Pakistan and Central Asian Republics is Afghanistan. Unfortunately, turbulent past relations between both countries alongside insecurity in Afghanistan and the region became a cause for both countries and our region collectively failing in capitalize on these economic opportunities.

The Islamic Emirate is pursuing an economic-centric foreign policy. We believe that expansion of mutual trade can resolve many problems of regional nations and also play a vital role in in improving ties between regional governments. The new Afghan government, with full commitment and accountability, assures you and the entire region that it will bring the idea of regional economic connectivity to life with the help of the region.

Afghanistan can play a central role in regional connectivity due to its unique geographic placement.

Now that Afghanistan has attained a responsible and committed government and praise be to Allah, conflict has ended, it has opened a historic opportunity for trade between Central and South Asia. Last week, a commercial convoy from Uzbekistan reached Pakistan via Afghanistan.

Similarly, Herat-Kandahar-Chaman route to Turkmenistan is approximately 1000km closer to Quetta than any other route and this plays a huge role in trade. Pakistan is also interested in expanding trade with Central Asian Republics especially importing liquefied gas from Turkmenistan. Afghanistan stands ready to provide facilities in this regard.

Moreover, the new Islamic government of Afghanistan is committed to connecting south and central Asia through air, road and rail links. TAPI project that will immensely benefit the people of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India and also positively impact ties of these government, along with the implementation and facilitation of KASA-1000, TAP and other such regional economic projects are our working priorities. This is a demonstration of the commitment of the new Afghan government towards regional economic cooperation.

As the final six-month extension of APTTA agreement signed in 2010 is set to expire in November, it is necessary that technical teams of both sides hold negotiations about amendments to the agreement. We are ready to hold talks about the agreement, to protect interests of both parties and for both countries to utilize good-faith for trade and transit till the conclusion of negotiations.

Delay and demurrage on Afghan trader goods at Karachi port cause extensive losses to our businessmen, negatively impact prices in Afghanistan and impeded trade expansion. We hope that the government of Pakistan pays special attention to this point.

Passage Closures

Majority of people from both countries utilize border gates found on land routes for movement. One problem faced by travelers of both countries is congestion at Torkham and Chaman gates. The closure of gates for months due to spread of corona pandemic is a major reason behind this congestion.

If there do exist issues at Chaman and Torkham, increasing visa issuance cannot resolve the problem. I propose that both sides respectively create facilities for movement of people so travelers especially medical patients, women, children and students can cross in a normal and smooth manner.

The lack of entry/exist stamp staff at Torkham as well as some procedural problems have resulted in travelers spending nights under the open sky. We hope that procedural problems are addressed and your staff increased so that multi-day waiting lines may end.

I believe that movement between both our people can contribute to bringing us even closer. My expectation, now that both governments have good relations, is that facilities be created for those travelling between the two governments on both sides of the gates.

Pakistan has hosted and shown hospitality to millions of Afghans for forty years for which we thank them, and we hope that until all our refugees can return to their home country, those Afghans still here are provided with facilities for education, health, security and work.

Large portion of our younger generation has been deprived of higher education due to years of conflict. Pakistan has arranged many scholarships for a large number of our youth and also paved the way for them to attend renowned private universities for which we are grateful. We hope that the government of Pakistan will provide even better educational opportunities to Afghan youth by increasing the number of scholarships.

Thank you.

To end, I wholeheartedly thank all of you and especially the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Shah Mahmood Qureishi for the invite and gracious hosting.

Wasalamualaikum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuhu

Fazilrabi Zahin

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