By Shafiq Ahmad
KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) – Pakistan has offered technical support to the new interim Taliban administration in different sectors, including banking and commerce, the country's ambassador in Kabul said, adding economic governance would be a major challenge for the interim government.
In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency in the capital Kabul, Pakistan's Ambassador to Afghanistan Mansour Ahmad Khan said banks and businesses are facing difficulties in Afghanistan, adding that if the Taliban require assistance from Pakistan, it will provide it as a "brotherly neighboring country."
Khan said he met with acting Foreign Minister Ameer Khan Muttaqi and acting Finance Minister Gul Agha Ishaqzai to discuss the challenges Afghanistan is facing.
- Recognition of Taliban government
This is a process that takes place in stages, the ambassador said, adding that the first step was an evacuation, followed by the present phase of humanitarian assistance, and lastly, increased participation to help the new interim administration fulfill the needs of the Afghan people through good governance.
“The international community has expectations from the interim administration, particularly genuine inclusivity,” Khan said, referring to the inclusion of various ethnic groups in the government.
Human rights and humanitarian issues must also be taken into account. Pakistan would analyze "how women will participate in different national activities – of course, within the context of Afghanistan's religious and cultural traditions," he added.
"So, when they recognize (Taliban as) a government, it's not relevant today," he said, and added that currently "several countries are engaging with the new (interim) Afghan government to stabilize the system."
- Security situation
Khan said the security situation in all provinces has been stable since the pullout of US forces, although there were some incidents at the airport during the evacuation.
Khan was one of the few ambassadors who chose to stay in Kabul when the Taliban captured the capital on Aug. 15, and the US forces were restricted to Kabul airport until their withdrawal on Aug. 31.
He said they were worried since they did not know what would happen. “We decided to stay here and assist with the evacuation efforts during that period,” Khan said, adding that the embassy assisted "those Pakistanis and Afghans who wanted to return to their respective homelands."
Other embassies were also present, including Russian, Chinese, Turkish, Iranian, and Qatari, the ambassador observed, and that they were all working hard to help and assist the process in their own ways.
“So, I would say the international community remained active largely," he said, noting: “Even those Western countries who shut their embassies in Kabul were covering Afghanistan from Doha."
- Panjshir valley
In response to a query about alleged Pakistan's involvement in backing the Taliban forces in their fight against the Panjshir resistance group, Khan replied that there has been a lot of unfounded misinformation coming from certain quarters, and alleged that "it was mostly initiated from India."
“I totally refute (these allegations). Our engagement was to support political efforts to resolve the issue,” he explained.
"Pakistan had no involvement in any way," he claimed, adding: “We just advised the two sides to hold talks for a political arrangement to resolve the Panjshir issue.”
- Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan
Pakistan kept pressing the previous government for action against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Jumaat-ul-Ahrar activities, Khan noted, saying: "We have also raised the issue during the peace process with the Afghan Taliban and other Afghan politicians in the presence of the international community."
In general, the Afghan politicians have agreed that they would do all possible to ensure that terrorist groups do not use Afghan soil against any of its neighbors or other countries, he said.
Pakistan and Afghanistan share a 2,400 kilometers (1,491 miles) long porous border with a history of problems, he said in response to a question on how to monitor it and stop cross-border movements.
Pakistan has improved its ability to monitor and regulate this border in recent years, Khan said and noted that they have fenced the border and spent a lot of money on the exercise.
"But, it will be challenging for the (interim) Afghan government (to monitor)," he said, stressing Islamabad's willingness to work with the new interim Afghan administration on the issue.
- Cross-border movement
Islamabad has made some arrangements in recent years regarding the issuance of liberal multiple entry visas for Afghans who want to come to Pakistan for business, education, medical treatment, and family contacts at all designated border crossings, including Torkham and Chaman, the ambassador said, pledging that “we will continue to facilitate this movement.”
“I think that as soon as the new administration appoints their border crossing institutions, we will intend to engage with them in order to make this movement easier,” Khan added.