ISLAMABAD: The government has decided immediate shipment of food in humanitarian assistance worth Rs5 billion to Afghanistan, which will comprise edibles including 50,000 MT of wheat, emergency medical supplies, winter shelters, and other supplies.
The decision to this effect was taken in the first meeting of newly established Afghanistan Inter-Ministerial Coordination Cell (AICC) presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan and attended by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Advisor on Finance Shaukat Fayaz Tarin, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yusuf, and senior civil and military officers.
The Prime Minister instructed all ministries to facilitate Afghans to the maximum. He ordered immediate shipment of in-kind humanitarian assistance worth Rs5 billion, which will comprise food commodities including 50,000 MT of wheat, emergency medical supplies, winter shelters and other supplies. He also approved in-principle tariff and sales tax reduction on key Afghan exports to Pakistan.
The prime minister also ordered that the facility of free Covid vaccination for all Afghans entering Pakistan from land borders be continued.
Pakistan has initiated free vaccination of Afghans since 13th November.
He also announced Pakistan’s decision to allow the 50,000 MT of wheat India has offered to provide Afghanistan as humanitarian assistance to go through Pakistan as soon as modalities are finalised with the Indian side.
Pakistan will also facilitate the return of Afghan patients who had gone to India for medical treatment and are stuck there, the prime minister announced.
Welcoming the prime minister, the National Security Adviser Dr Yusuf, who is also the convener of apex committee, made a detailed presentation to brief the civil and military leadership on the current economic situation in Afghanistan and the progress made by apex committee in coordinating national efforts for humanitarian assistance and border facilitation for Afghans.
Prime Minister Imran Khan appreciated the work of the apex committee in coordinating Pakistan’s policy and expressed satisfaction at the improved border management protocols.
He ordered that capacity of border staff be enhanced further and instructed that no arbitrary closures of borders for trade should be allowed.
The prime minister also ordered that bus service between Peshawar and Jalalabad be revived to facilitate travellers on both sides. To further facilitate Afghans, the visa duration will be relaxed such that visas are granted within three weeks at the most.
Participants expressed concerns about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and emphasised that Pakistan will not abandon Afghans in their time of need.
The prime minister took the opportunity to remind the international community of the collective responsibility to support Afghanistan to avoid a humanitarian crisis.
He highlighted that Afghans were one of the bravest nations of earth who can meet any adversity but that the world owed its support to ensure that they can live in a peaceful and stable environment after years of constant conflict.
A senior delegation of Afghan health officials will visit Islamabad later this week to work out modalities for Pakistan’s support to Afghanistan’s health sector.
Meanwhile, the prime minister instructed the national security adviser to visit Afghanistan to hold delegation-level talks and agree on specific areas, where immediate capacity building support shall be provided to Afghans.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021