In a significant move to improve the bilateral relations and cooperation between the two neighboring countries, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) and Pakistan have agreed to establish a joint committee to facilitate the cross-border movement of their nationals. This is a welcome development that reflects the positive trajectory of ties between the two countries, who have a long history of cultural, religious, and economic ties, as well as a shared border of 2670 km.
The joint committee will be composed of representatives from the consular section of the IEA’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and the Pakistani embassy in Kabul. The committee will work to streamline the visa application process, provide consular services, and resolve any issues related to travel documents and border crossings. The committee will also work to enhance cultural and educational exchanges and promote people-to-people contacts between the two countries.
The establishment of the joint committee is a result of the recent visit of Amir Khan Muttaqi, the acting minister of foreign affairs of IEA, to Islamabad, where he met with his Pakistani counterpart and other senior officials. During the visit, the two sides discussed various issues of mutual interest and concern, such as security, trade, refugees, humanitarian aid, and regional connectivity. The two sides also reaffirmed their commitment to enhance bilateral cooperation and coordination for peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.
The joint committee will also benefit from the recent opening of an additional trade route at Spin Boldak-Chaman border, which will facilitate easy trade by the business communities of both countries. The opening of the trade route was announced by Pakistan’s Prime Minister during his visit to Kabul in November 2022, where he met with IEA’s Supreme Leader Hibatullah Akhundzada and other leaders. The trade route will boost the bilateral trade volume, which reached $1.6 billion in 2022, and will also create employment opportunities and economic development for both countries.
The joint committee is also a recognition of Pakistan’s struggle for effective border management, which is essential to curb the movement of militant groups and end the allegations of cross-border incursions. Pakistan has been facing security challenges along its border with Afghanistan, where various terrorist groups such as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), and Al-Qaeda have been operating.
The announcement comes amid growing bilateral cooperation and trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as the need to address the challenges faced by Afghan refugees and migrants in Pakistan. The joint committee will be responsible for streamlining the visa application process, providing consular services, and resolving any issues related to travel documents and border crossings. The committee will also work to enhance cultural and educational exchanges, as well as promote people-to-people contacts between the two neighboring countries.
The IEA’s MoFA said that the joint committee will start its work soon and will hold regular meetings to review the progress and challenges in facilitating the cross-border movement of nationals. The MoFA expressed its appreciation for Pakistan’s support and assistance to Afghanistan, especially in the fields of health, education, and humanitarian aid. Pakistan has been hosting millions of Afghan refugees for decades and has also provided medical treatment, scholarships, food items, and winter supplies to Afghanistan. The MoFA hoped that the joint committee will contribute to strengthening the fraternal ties and mutual trust between the two countries.
It is quite evident that setting up of task team b/w Pakistan & Afghanistan is a right step towards improving bilateral ties while restricting movement of militant groups & putting an end to allegations of cross-border incursions. Pakistan shares 2670 km long border and five operational crossing points with Afghanistan despite human resource limitations. Such agreements intended on improved arrangements would not only improve bilateral ties but also generate mutual prospects of prosperity and development.