Meeting of Apex Committee on Afghanistan reiterates Pakistan’s resolve to support war-torn state and forestall looming humanitarian crisis
Urging the international community to support the vulnerable population of Afghanistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday reiterated his hopes that the world would not repeat its mistake of disengaging with the war-torn state at this critical juncture.
Chairing the second meeting of the Apex Committee on Afghanistan, he emphasized that Pakistan would support the Afghan people in every possible way to avert a looming humanitarian crisis. He noted that Pakistan had already committed to immediate relief for Afghanistan in the form of in-kind humanitarian assistance worth Rs. 5 billion. This, he said, would comprise food, including 50,000 metric tons of wheat; emergency medical supplies; winter shelters and other essential supplies.
The prime minister also reiterated a decision of the federal cabinet, stressing that humanitarian organizations wishing to support efforts in Afghanistan through Pakistan should be facilitated, adding that Islamabad had already committed to serving as an air and land bridge for humanitarian support to the war-torn state.
Since the Taliban ousted the Ashraf Ghani-led government of Afghanistan in August, the war-torn state has been teetering toward economic collapse, in large part driven by the U.S. freezing assets of its central bank that had been parked abroad. The West has maintained that the funds would be released after the Taliban fulfill promises to form an inclusive government and ensure equal rights to minorities and women. Pakistan and international aid organizations have warned that this risks the country devolving into chaos, with hundreds of thousands already on the brink of starvation.
During its meeting, the Apex Committee was briefed on the facility of free COVID-19 vaccinations for all Afghans entering Pakistan from land borders. It was also informed that the process of obtaining Pakistani visas had been simplified for Afghans.
According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, the participants of the Apex Committee reiterated their concerns about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, and emphasized that Pakistan would not abandon Afghans in their time of need.
The Apex Committee on Afghanistan—a high-level body tasked with coordinating a national response to the plight of Afghans—was attended by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Planning Minister Asad Umer, Adviser to the P.M. on Finance Shaukat Tarin, Adviser to the P.M. Commerce Abdul Razaq Dawood, Pakistan Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, National Security Adviser Moeed Yousaf, and senior civil and military officers.
The second meeting of the forum came ahead of an upcoming session of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation Foreign Ministers. Scheduled for Dec. 19 in Islamabad, the moot aims at highlighting the plight of the Afghan people and working out means to help them.