Thursday January 20, 2022

PM okays Rs5 bn Pak assistance, Indian wheat for Kabul

November 23, 2021
PM okays Rs5 bn Pak assistance, Indian wheat for Kabul

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday approved humanitarian assistance package for Afghanistan worth Rs5 billion, ordering immediate shipment of in-kind assistance to the neighbouring country.

He announced Pakistan’s decision to allow 50,000-MT wheat India offered to provide to Afghanistan as humanitarian assistance to go through Pakistan as soon as modalities were finalised with the Indian side. He also approved in-principle tariff and sales tax reduction on key Afghan exports to Pakistan.

PM Imran Khan visited the newly established Afghanistan Inter-Ministerial Coordination Cell (AICC), where he chaired the first apex committee meeting of the Cell. The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Advisor on Finance Shaukat Fayyaz Tarin, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yousaf and senior civil and military officers.

The PM 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 wheat, emergency medical supplies, winter shelters and other supplies.

He also ordered that the facility of free Covid-19 vaccination for all Afghans entering Pakistan from land borders be continued. Pakistan has initiated free vaccination of Afghans since Nov 13. Pakistan will also facilitate the return of Afghan patients who had gone to India for medical treatment and were stuck there, the PM announced.

Welcoming the PM, Dr Moeed Yusuf, who is also convener of the AICC, made a detailed presentation to brief 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 PM appreciated the AICC work 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.

Imran Khan also ordered that a bus service between Peshawar and Jalalabad be revived to facilitate travellers on both sides. To further facilitate Afghans, the visa duration would be relaxed such that visas are granted within three weeks at the most. The participants expressed concerns about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and emphasised that Pakistan would 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 could meet any adversity but that the world owed support to ensure that they could 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 PM instructed the National Security Adviser to visit Afghanistan to hold delegation-level talks and agree on specific areas where immediate capacity building support should be provided to Afghans.