Lieutenant-General Naveed Mukhtar, the head of Pakistan’s military intelligence - Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) - arrived in Kabul on Tuesday amid ongoing tension between the two neighbors.
Neither Pakistani nor Afghan officials have yet commented on the details and objectives of the visit, however, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Pakistan's parliament speaker said the trip was aimed at improving Kabul-Islamabad relations and expanding political and military cooperation between the two countries.
However, some circles believe this is not the case.
On Tuesday, the international relations commission of the Afghan parliament said that the ISI chief’s trip to Kabul was an attempt by Islamabad to stop the blacklisting of Pakistan due to it being an alleged state sponsor of terrorism.
“Pakistan is now in a situation where there is fear that the country will be declared as a state sponsor of terrorism. Therefore Pakistan is trying to improve its relations with Afghanistan,” said Daud Kalakani, head of the international relations committee for the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament).
Mukhtar’s trip marks the first official visit by a Pakistani official to Afghanistan following new tensions between the two countries.
The trip also takes place at a time that the United States is set to announce its new war strategy on Afghanistan.
"Relations between Kabul and Islamabad are coming closer following the integration of Mr. Hekmatyar with the government of Afghanistan. Today Gen. Naveed Mukhtar came to Kabul and met with [National Security Advisor] Massoum Stanekzai and returned to Pakistan after secret talks with Mr. Ghani,” said political analyst Ahmad Saeedi.
This comes just days after a Pakistani parliamentary delegation also met with Afghan CEO Abdullah Abdullah and invited him to visit Islamabad.
The CEO’s office has said that this visit by the delegation was linked to Pakistan’s honest cooperation in the war against terrorism.
“Trips, meetings and consultations would strengthen the [Kabul-Islamabad] ties, but the important thing is that the Pakistanis should abide by their commitments and stop backing enemies of Afghanistan,” Abdullah’s deputy spokesman Jawed Faisal said.
Top Pakistani military and intelligence officials have visited Afghanistan in the past in the hope of strengthening ties, but none of the trips ever proved effective in terms of resolving disputes.
Back in February, Pakistan announced that it is introducing fresh border restrictions with Afghanistan following a string of deadly attacks on Pakistani cities which Islamabad blamed on insurgents operating out of Afghanistan.
The border row soured bilateral relations between the two neighbors despite efforts by the United States, the European Union and UK to resolve the issues.