The commerce minister of the interim Afghanistan government, during a visit to Islamabad on Tuesday, discussed various issues related to bilateral trade with interim Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani, including the matter of assets of refugees being repatriated.
According to a statement issued by the Embassy of Afghanistan in Islamabad, visiting Minister Alhaji Nooruddin Azizi met Jilani and discussed various issues. “Bilateral trade, especially the stranded goods of Afghan traders in Karachi port; smooth transfer of Afghan refugees’ properties to Afghanistan and related issues were discussed,” it said.
Earlier, interim Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti had announced that Afghans returning to their homeland would be allowed to leave with Rs. 50,000 in cash. Any additional sums, he said, could be transferred via banking channels. However, many migrants and refugees have voiced concerns over an inability to return with their livestock, with reports of jewelry also being seized, and harassment at border crossings.
In its statement, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said Jilani had received the visiting Afghan minister. “He [Jilani] reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to mutually beneficial ties with Afghanistan,” it said, adding that the interim foreign minister had said the “full potential” for regional trade and connectivity could only be harnessed through collective action against terrorism.
Observers have linked Islamabad’s ongoing deportation drive to the Afghan Taliban’s repeated failure to act against terrorists utilizing Afghanistan to stage attacks on Pakistan’s soil. This view was bolstered by a press conference of interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar last week in which he lamented that the Afghan government had not taken any action against “anti-Pakistan groups” despite repeated assurances of the same. He also alleged that a recent surge in terrorism was a “reaction” to the deportation drive, adding the policy would continue.
Since the interim government announced, on Oct. 3, an Oct. 31 deadline for the voluntary departure of all undocumented migrants, rights groups have sounded alarm over the humanitarian crisis that could result from hundreds of thousands of Afghans returning to Afghanistan without a proper exit plan. Afghan authorities have, meanwhile, urged Pakistan to exercise restraint, warning of a “reaction” if it continues the implementation of the policy.