Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday approved humanitarian aid worth Rs5 billion for Afghanistan, in addition to allowing the transportation of Indian food assistance for the war-battered country through Pakistan.

The decision was made during the first meeting of the apex committee for the newly established Afghanistan Inter-Ministerial Coordination Cell (AICC). The PM chaired the meeting that had Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa, Adviser on Finance Shaukat Tarin, National Security Adviser Dr. Moeed Yousuf, and senior civil and military officers in attendance.

According to the PM Office (PMO), PM Khan “ordered immediate shipment of in-kind humanitarian assistance worth Rs5 billion”.

As per the PMO, the aid would comprise food commodities such as 50,000 tonnes of wheat, emergency medical supplies, and winter shelters. Later this week a delegation of health officials from Kabul will visit Islamabad to plan out modalities for Pakistan’s support to Afghanistan’s health sector.

The announcement regarding the assistance greenlighted by the prime minister was made on October 1 during the visit of FM Qureshi to Afghanistan for a meeting with the leadership of the Taliban.

Pakistan is already sending humanitarian supplies to Afghanistan almost on a daily basis since September.

Earlier on Thursday, United Nations’ Special Representative for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons had warned that the country was “on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe” with around 60 percent of its population expected to suffer extreme levels of hunger.

The food emergency is forecasted to aggravate during the winter.

Those who participated in the meeting pledged to not abandon the Afghans in their difficult time.

PM Khan urged the global community to fulfill its “collective responsibility” and help Afghanistan avoid the impending humanitarian crisis.

He further announced the decision to permit 50,000 MT of wheat that India had offered to Afghanistan as humanitarian assistance to be transported through Pakistan following finalisation of modalities.

Khan added, “Pakistan will also facilitate the return of Afghan patients who had gone to India for medical treatment and are stuck there”.

While instructing the ministries to provide maximum facilitation to Afghans, the prime minister noted that it had been agreed in principle to lower tariff and sales tax on key Afghan exports to Pakistan.

This would aid in improving Afghanistan’s economy. Following the Taliban takeover in August this year, imports from Kabul to Islamabad are higher than exports from Islamabad to Kabul.

PM Khan instructed that no arbitrary closures of borders for trade should be permitted.

He further instructed the revival of bus service between Peshawar and Jalalabad to facilitate cross-border travel. Measures to facilitate visas for Afghanistan were also approved.

The prime minister said that the facility of free Covid-19 vaccination for the Afghans entering Pakistan via land borders should continue. Pakistan has initiated free vaccination of the Afghans since November 13.

NSA Moeed Yusuf was asked to visit Afghanistan to explore specific areas where immediate capacity building support was needed by the Afghans.

Yusuf, who is also the convener of AICC briefed the civil and military leadership on the current economic situation in Afghanistan and the progress made by the AICC in coordinating national efforts for humanitarian assistance and border facilitation for Afghans.

The story was filed by the News Desk.
The Desk can be reached at info@thecorrespondent.com.pk.

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