Pakistan eases travel restrictions, publicizes assist for Afghanistan

Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistan will present greater than $28m in fast humanitarian assist to Afghanistan and can ease travel and commerce restrictions at its land borders.

The announcement was made on Thursday after Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi concluded a one-day journey to Kabul, his first because the Taliban seized energy within the neighbouring nation.

Speaking at a information convention within the Pakistani capital Islamabad, Qureshi mentioned delegation-level talks with the Afghan interim authorities, together with interim Afghan Prime Minister Mohammad Hassan Akhund, have been optimistic.

“The Pakistani people stand with the Afghan people in this difficult time,” mentioned Qureshi. “We have never left room on this, and this remains our thought.”

Pakistan-imposed restrictions on the motion of products and travellers by means of the 2 principal land crossings between the international locations had been a key level of rigidity in current weeks.

Qureshi introduced vital coverage modifications after his go to to Kabul.

Afghan guests to Pakistan with legitimate visas will now be capable to cross the border freely, with an e-visa facility launched with a view to streamline the visa utility course of, he mentioned.

Visa charges have additionally been waived till December 31. An further documentary and charge requirement for a “gate pass” has now additionally been dropped.

Afghan travellers who’re searching for medical care in Pakistan or are dealing with a medical emergency will probably be granted visas on arrival.

Border crossing hours have additionally been elevated, with the pedestrian crossing hall opened for 12 hours a day, in contrast with the earlier eight hours, and the commerce hall made operational 24 hours a day.

Economic measures

Since seizing energy in mid-August, the Taliban’s interim authorities in Afghanistan has confronted a worsening financial disaster, with a lot of the central financial institution’s belongings frozen overseas and inner financial exercise grinding to a digital halt.

Addressing these considerations, Qureshi mentioned Pakistan had dropped duties on the import of Afghan recent vegetables and fruit, and {that a} working group had been shaped to look at the place duties may very well be diminished or eliminated on different commodities.

“Keeping trade in mind … Afghan businessmen were facing a lot of difficulties,” mentioned Qureshi. “Now we have decided that if any Afghan businessman wants to come to Pakistan in relation to trade then they will get visas on arrival for 30 days.”

Talks have been additionally held on safety points, with Pakistan elevating concern relating to the usage of Afghan soil by the armed group Pakistan Taliban, also referred to as TTP, in opposition to Pakistan.

“They said in very clear terms that now, with them there, Pakistan should not have any fear that Afghan soil will be used against [Pakistan],” mentioned Qureshi.

Qureshi mentioned he “spelled out” the worldwide neighborhood’s expectations from the Afghan Taliban’s interim authorities so as to achieve worldwide recognition.

“I spelled out those things that the international community expects from them … for example, on inclusivity, for example, on fundamental rights, on women’s rights, on girls’ education, for example, on the reduction of space for international terrorist organisations,” he mentioned.

The Afghan delegation included interim PM Akhund, Deputy PM Abdullah Hanafi, Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, Finance Minister Hidayatullah Badri, Defence Minister Muhammad Yaqoob, Mines and Petroleum Minister Muhammad Isa Akhund, Commerce Minister Nooruddin Azizi, and Border and Tribal Areas Minister Noorullah Noori.

Pakistan’s delegation included the top of the nation’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Lieutenant-General Faiz Hamid, senior safety and army officers, commerce ministry officers and senior overseas ministry officers.

Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera’s digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim.