Pakistan, Afghanistan to hold trade talks amid strained ties

Foreign Office spokesperson said that Secretary Commerce would undertake a two-day visit to Afghanistan on March 25

Islamabad: A Pakistani commerce ministry delegation will visit Afghanistan on Monday to address issues related to trade between the two countries, amidst strain in their bilateral ties.

Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said that Secretary Commerce Khurrum Agha would undertake a two-day visit to Afghanistan on March 25 to discuss trade-related matters.

“Pakistan remains committed to promoting trade and people-to-people ties with Afghanistan,” she said in a post on X.

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Other delegation members include Commerce Ministry Joint Secretary Maria Qazi, Additional Secretary of Commerce Dr Wajid Ali Khan, Director General Transit Trade and Additional Secretary of Interior Khushal Khan.

The Afghan side also confirmed the visit, with spokesman for the Afghan Commerce Ministry Abdul Salam Jawad telling the Dawn newspaper that Minister of Industry and Commerce Nooruddin Azizi would lead the Afghan delegation and discussions would be held on overall bilateral and transit trade.

“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 per cent of transit trade has been decreased due to this ban and shifted to Iran,” Jawad said.

Earlier, Azizi held an online meeting with Agha on March 11 and invited him to visit Kabul with a delegation for talks on trade issues.

The visit comes as relations between the two neighbours deteriorated after Pakistan carried out airstrikes in Afghanistan on March 18 to target the alleged hideouts of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan militants after seven army soldiers, including two officers, were killed in a terrorist attack at an army outpost.

Reportedly, the Afghan border troops fired mortars across the border in retaliation to the attack by the Pakistani side.

The two sides are trying to cool down the tempers and Afghan charge d’affaires Shokaib Ahmad met Pakistan’s Special envoy for Afghanistan Asif Durrani on Friday and “addressed recent challenges between the two countries, the revitalisation of political, commercial, people-to-people and other aspects of bilateral relations,” according to the Afghan embassy.

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