Taliban urges Pakistan to facilitate return of Afghan migrants’ assets

Taliban has called on Pakistan to permit Afghan nationals to repatriate their cash and other assets back to Afghanistan, according to a Taliban statement.

The Taliban embassy in Islamabad revealed that Nooruddin Azizi, the acting Minister of Industry and Commerce, met with caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani in Islamabad to address trade and asset-related concerns of Afghan nationals in Pakistan.

The visit occurred less than a week after Pakistan announced the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of undocumented Afghans, citing the Taliban-led administration’s reluctance to act against militants using Afghanistan as a base for attacks in Pakistan.

Taliban officials argue that militancy is an internal matter for Pakistan and have appealed to Islamabad to halt the deportation of Afghan citizens.

A statement from the Taliban Embassy in Islamabad stated, “Bilateral trade, especially stranded goods of (Afghan) traders in Karachi Port, smooth transfer of (Afghan) refugees’ properties to (Afghanistan), and related issues were discussed.”

Afghan citizens being repatriated have voiced concerns about restrictions on transferring assets and cash owned in Pakistan back to Afghanistan.

Azizi also urged Pakistan to release thousands of containers of imports stuck at Karachi Port since Islamabad tightened regulations on transnational cargo. Pakistani authorities claim significant tax losses as goods are sent duty-free from its ports to landlocked Afghanistan and then smuggled back across the border.

According to Afghan authorities, Pakistan has held over 3,000 Afghanistan-bound containers at Karachi Port, demanding additional tax and duty payments, resulting in substantial losses for traders.

The dispute over goods, including high-end electronics, machine parts, chemicals, and textiles, has escalated since the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan in August 2021.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Foreign Office stated that Jilani conveyed a message emphasizing, “Full potential for regional trade and connectivity can be harnessed with collective action against terrorism.”

The Taliban’s acting commerce minister is expected to participate in a trilateral meeting with representatives from Pakistan and Uzbekistan, with the agenda yet to be disclosed.

The three sides have been collaborating on plans for trade transit and railway connections between South and Central Asia, crossing through Afghanistan.