Newly appointed Consular General of Afghanistan in Peshawar, Muhammad Moeen Mrastyal, has termed the upcoming visit of President Ashraf Ghani to Islamabad an effort to normalise the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan. His trip will signify Afghanistan’s efforts to resume and strengthen bilateral relations, with hopes that Pakistan will reciprocate.
While speaking exclusively to The Express Tribune on Tuesday on his first visit to the Afghan registration center in the suburbs of Peshawar, the consular said that the recent visit of COAS Qamar Javed Bajwa to Kabul was, “fruitful, and result oriented”, and that the Afghan administration “appreciated the efforts of military top brass for cordial offers to play its role in peace, stability in the region”.
“I am personally optimistic that the stinging relationship between the two brotherly countries will end soon. After the visit of the Afghan President, we see a new chapter of friendly environment in Kabul and Islamabad”, which he claimed was “the best for peace and stability of both nations”.
“My mission to this province is to mend the gaps between the governments, people to people, enhance trade which is zero at the moment, pave a way for transit trade, facilitate Afghan refugees, and facilitate Islamabad in linking them to have trade route to central Asia,” Mrastyal has said. “Once Kabul was dependent on Islamabad for trade and their daily usages, around 70 per cent of the whole Afghan-Pakistan trade was from here, but since the past two years the tension concerning the shared border, accusations of militancy and terrorism, and much more had compelled us to switch to other choices, but I hope that with my arrival the trade and ties will improve tremendously,” Moeen Mrastyal said.
Speaking about Afghan refugees, the consular stated that they have all information of the hardships that the refugees face in K-P and all over the country. However, keeping in mind that the majority of the refugees reside in the province, 11 out of 22 registration centers have been established for the refugees in K-P.
“In the last one month, we have registered 120,000 Afghan refugees in the 22 registered centers, and hope that in a span of five months, we will be able to register up to 700,000 refugees in the country,” the consular general added.
He has promised the refugees at the center that he will take daily reports on the registration process from across K-P and FATA, and asked the concerned authority in the embassy to facilitate the refugees at war footing.
Meanwhile, the Afghan refugees complain and protest at the unavailability of basic facilities of electricity, water, and lack of toilets at the registration centers. The refugees also claim that they are being bribed, and are being charged for the registration process.
The refugees at the registration center in Chamkani, Peshawar, told The Express Tribune that Afghan officers take money from the poor refugees for earlier registration, deliverance of proof of registration, and for entering the center. This was Moeen Mrastyal’s first visit to the Afghan refugees after taking office in the Peshawar consulate, the provincial capital of K-P.