Pak-Afghanistan relations after the Taliban takeover

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Naseebullah Khan
During the reign of Ashraf Ghani, the bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan were tensed and faced difficult times. After the fleeing of Ashraf Ghani, the Taliban have taken control of the state since August 15, 2021. This historic opportunity should be not be wasted and both neighboring countries (Pakistan and Afghanistan) ought to build friendly relations with each other. The vital reason for strained relations between Pakistan and Ashraf Ghani administration was the growing Indian involvement in Pakistan from the Afghan soil upon which Pakistan had serious reservations. With the emergence of the Taliban as a new authority in Afghanistan, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan Mr. Shah Mahmood expressed hope and said that “It is in a sync with the international community in wanting to see a peaceful, stable Afghanistan with no space for terrorist elements to increase their foothold and for the Taliban to ensure that the Afghan Soil is never used again against any country.” The new administration of the Taliban has assured Pakistan that its soil would not be used against the interests of Pakistan. If the assurance is enacted with true speed then the establishment of friendly relations between both states will not be for. The issue of TTP and its hideouts in Afghanistan has been a serious concern for Pakistan. After the breaking of many prisons during the armed tussle between the Taliban and the Ashraf Ghani government, the fears of Pakistan have increased as many terrorists were succeeded to escape. The Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, although said that Afghan soil will not be used by TTP against Pakistan__but still a long way to go. A very unfortunate incident took place a couple of weeks ago on the Turkham border when a Talib fighter in uniform disrespected the flag of Pakistan__at a time when humanitarian assistance was sent to Afghanistan by the Pakistani government. Such types of incidents never help in the progress of friendly relations. During the rule of Ashraf Ghani, the trade volume between both countries had slumped. It tumbled from 2 billion US dollars to 700 million US dollars. Recently as a positive gesture, the Pakistan government erased twenty percent of the tax on fruit coming from Afghanistan__which will help the peasants of Afghanistan. It has been estimated by the Chamber of Commerce and Industries of Pakistan that both countries have the potential of bilateral trade of 8 to 10 billion US dollars annually. This could only be achieved provided that friendly relations are established. Pakistan has been a staunch supporter of inclusive and broad-based government in Afghanistan and considers it a real solution to the ills of war-torn Afghanistan. Although the Taliban have included some of the people in the cabinet who belong to different ethnicities in Afghanistan, the issue has remained unsolved as the major parties who represent different ethnicities have been bypassed. Pakistan has been pressing the Taliban for giving a share to other ethnicities of Afghanistan in the government so that the country might not be plunged again into civil war and unrest. Pakistan and Afghanistan have One border, the same cultures of nations living in both countries, and a common religion. Their issues are some and the pains and sufferings of one country affect the other. Although the relationship between both states has been fragile in past, it is hoped that the bilateral relations will improve during the new government of Afghanistan, by accommodating the concerns.