The key principles of Pakistan’s policy towards Afghanistan include strengthening people-to-people contacts, deepening trade and transit ties, undertaking joint connectivity and energy projects for enhanced economic integration, working together for bringing peace in Afghanistan, non-interference in the internal affairs and not allowing respective territories to be used against each other.

Building close cooperative relations with Afghanistan is a high priority of Pakistan’s foreign policy and a vital component of our vision of a “peaceful neighbourhood.” Pakistan continues its efforts for forging a friendly and good-neighbourly relationship with Afghanistan, on the basis of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi undertook his maiden foreign visit to Kabul highlighting the importance that Pakistan attaches to its relations with Afghanistan.

In pursuance of its policy of attending all international forum geared towards bringing peace, stability and development in Afghanistan, Pakistan participated in the meetings of Kabul Process-I&II, RECCA, Moscow Format on Afghanistan, SCO Contact Group on Afghanistan, International Contact Group on Afghanistan, Six Party Talks and others.

High Level Exchanges:

Through various High Level Exchanges, such as President Ashraf Ghani’s visit to Islamabad (27-28 June 2019) and Foreign Minister of Pakistan’s three visits to Kabul (his maiden foreign visit was to Kabul on 15 September 2018), Pakistan and Afghanistan have continuously strengthened the bilateral relations of amity and brotherhood.

Pakistan’s Development Assistance

In June last year, Pakistan’s development assistance to Afghanistan reached US$ 1 billion. The country’s development assistance is geared towards investment in infrastructure, education, health, agriculture and capacity building of Afghan professionals. Pakistan has setup healthcare facilities in Afghanistan including three hospitals, i.e., 200-bed Jinnah Hospital Kabul, 80-bed Nishtar Kidney Center in Jalalabad and 100-bed Naib Aminullah Khan Logar Hospital. Jinnah hospital Kabul and Nishtar Kidney center have been handed over to Afghanistan. Pakistan’s infrastructure projects in Afghanistan include Torkham-Jalalabad Road (75 Km), Torkham-Jalalabad Additional Carriage way (73 Km), 15 Weigh Bridges, donation of road construction machinery, construction of internal road in Jalalabad and donation of telecom and electricity system.

Besides providing scholarships to almost 4000 Afghan students, Pakistan has constructed Rehman Baba School and Hostel in Kabul, Allama Iqbal Faculty of Arts at Kabul University, Sir Syed Science Block at Nangarhar University Jalalabad and Liaqat Ali Khan Engineering Block at Balkh University in Mazar-e-Sharif. Pakistan is also providing 3,000 fully-funded scholarships to Afghan students. Selection test of the first batch of the Afghan students for 3,000 scholarships was conducted last year. Responding to demand from Afghanistan, we have added categories of Masters and PhD programs. of 3000 students was made in Pakistan has pledged US $ 2 million for the Afghan students to pursue business management degrees at the Lahore University of Management Science (LUMS). Around 50,000 Afghans who studied in our educational institutions are currently serving their country.

Pakistan is also assisting Afghanistan in capacity building in the fields of agriculture, banking, railways, military and diplomacy. The government initiated capacity building projects for Afghan healthcare professionals, under which 59 Afghan medical professionals including doctors, nurses, and technicians successfully completed their training in 2017. In addition, 42 Afghan healthcare professionals have started training at Institute of Kidney Diseases, Peshawar.

Trade and Economic Relations

The two countries have substantial trade linkages. Pakistan is Afghanistan ‘s largest trade partner. According to Afghanistan Central Statics Organization (CSO), Ministry of Finance, during Afghanistan’s FY 2018 (22 December 2017- 21 December 2018), Pak- Afghan bilateral trade remained the highest and reached US$ 1,437 million followed by Afghanistan- Iran at US$ 1,284 million and China at US$ 1,098. Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) has reported an increase of 18.33% in Pakistan’s export to Afghanistan in year 2017-18 (July-June) over preceding corresponding year (2016-17) i.e. from US$1,171 to US$ 1,476 million.

The two sides have the following institutional mechanisms in the domain of trade and economic cooperation:

a). Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Cooperation Authority (APTTCA)

b). Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce & Industry

c). Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Business Council

d). Joint Economic Commission (JEC)

e). Afghan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS)

Afghan Refugees

Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan refugees for the last four decades. There are around 2.8 million Afghan refugees currently living in Pakistan.

Pakistan is working with Afghanistan and international organization i.e. UNHCR and IOM for their safe, dignified, sustainable and voluntary return to their homeland under various UN strategies (SSAR)

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