Afghanistan and Pakistan are scheduled to talk about trade normalization in Kabul.

A delegation from Pakistan’s commerce ministry is scheduled to visit Afghanistan on Monday (Mar 25) to tackle bilateral trade-related issues. Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch confirmed that Secretary Commerce Khurrum Agha would lead the delegation on a two-day trip to Afghanistan starting March 25 to engage in discussions concerning trade matters.

Baloch highlighted Pakistan’s commitment to fostering trade and people-to-people connections with Afghanistan and underlined the importance of addressing mutual concerns.

Joining Agha in the delegation are key officials including Maria Qazi, Dr Wajid Ali Khan and Khushal Khan.

Afghanistan also acknowledged the impending visit. Spokesman for the Afghan commerce ministry, Abdul Salam Jawad, said that Minister of Industry and Commerce Nooruddin Azizi would lead the Afghan delegation.

Jawad highlighted the intention to discuss bilateral and transit trade issues, particularly focusing on addressing the ban on certain transit items which has adversely affected trade flows.

“We will take up the issue of a ban on several transit items. Pakistan has banned the import of certain items under the transit agreement. Around 50 percent of transit trade has been decreased due to this ban and shifted to Iran,” Jawad said.

Pakistan-Afghanistan strained ties
The upcoming talks come in the wake of strained relations between the two nations following Pakistani airstrikes in Afghanistan targeting alleged Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan militants. The incident followed a terrorist attack on a Pakistani Army outpost.

Khan Jan Alkozai of the Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry expressed optimism that the Pakistani government would address Afghan importers’ concerns.

Additionally, Pakistani traders also pointed at the importance of facilitating transit and bilateral trade with Afghanistan, citing mutual benefits for both nations.

The history of Pak-Afghan relations has seen fluctuations, with incidents like the temporary closure of the Torkham border crossing in February 2023 due to escalated tensions.

Recent engagements between diplomatic representatives from both countries aim at de-escalating tensions and revitalising various aspects of bilateral relations.

However, challenges persist, with Pakistan urging the Taliban government in Kabul to take stronger action against anti-Pakistani groups, especially the TTP, allegedly harboured in Afghanistan.

These talks also occur amid international concerns over the Taliban’s governance in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s efforts to address security challenges.

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