Afghanistan package

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PRIME Minister Imran Khan, on Monday, announced a substantive package to help Afghanistan tackle its grave humanitarian crisis triggered by the discriminatory approach of some world powers in the wake of latest political changes in Kabul.

Chairing the first Apex Committee meeting of the newly established forum of Afghanistan Inter-Ministerial Coordination Cell (AICC), he approved a humanitarian assistance package for Afghanistan including tariff and sales tax reduction on key exports to the neighbouring country; immediate consignment of in-kind humanitarian assistance worth Rs5 billion, comprising food commodities, emergency medical supplies, winter shelters and other supplies and  transportation of 50,000 megatons of wheat via Pakistan, under the assistance offered by India on humanitarian grounds as soon as the two countries finalize the modalities.

The outcome of the meeting confirms the Cell is actively coordinating national efforts to provide much-needed assistance and relief to the people of Afghanistan, who are experiencing great hardships due to blockade of foreign assistance and the onset of harsh winter.

The announcement of the package was in line with the repeated assurances made by the top leadership of the country that Afghanistan would not be abandoned at this critical time and that Pakistan would do whatever it could to mitigate sufferings of Afghan brethren.

It is all the more important to note that a decision has also been taken to dispatch a delegation, headed by National Security Advisor, Moeed Yousaf, would visit Afghanistan to assess the ground situation and hold discussion with Afghan officials about their needs for capacity building as most of the problems in Afghanistan are due to near break-down of the system in the backdrop of brain-drain and political changes.

A delegation of senior officials of the Afghan health ministry would also visit Islamabad this week to apprise the Pakistani side about the kind of support the country needs in the health sector.

Humanitarian assistance and cooperation in capacity building would surely prove to be the most important contribution of Pakistan to the efforts being made by the Taliban government to stabilize Afghanistan.

We would reiterate the proposal for the institution of a national fund for Afghanistan so that donations in cash and kind are channelized and distributed in an effective manner.

People of Pakistan are fully resolved to contribute their share to help Afghans overcome their problems and their contribution would make a difference for millions.

While appreciating the comprehensive package offered by Pakistan including proposed reduction in taxes for exports to Afghanistan, it is pointed out that Pakistan has its own financial and economic difficulties and it alone cannot do enough to stabilize the country.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, during their bilateral meetings with foreign leaders and delegates, have been emphasizing that it is the collective responsibility of the international community to support Afghanistan after years of war and conflict.

However, so far the arbitrary bans and sanctions against the new Afghan government continue, compounding problems of Afghan people, It is unfortunate that the champions of human rights, instead of releasing blocked funds and providing humanitarian assistance, are telling the Taliban government that it will have to ‘earn’ unfreezing of assets.

They are adamant despite the fact that so far the Afghan government has not taken any measure that affects rights of minorities or under-privileged segments of the society including women.

On Monday, the Taliban moved further towards fulfilment of the main demand of the international community about formation of an inclusive government.

Afghan Shura met under the patronage of Ameer-ul-Momineen Mullah Habitullah Akhund in Kandahar and decided to include 25 more names for inclusion in the government including those from provinces and representing different ethnic groups.

In fact, nowhere in the world including the so-called champions of democracy, the political opposition is included in the government and, therefore, it would be unjust to force the Taliban to do so in Afghanistan as this poses the risk of making the system of governance dysfunctional.

Acting Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi also said recently that they have an all-inclusive government representing Tajiks, Balochs, Turkmens, Nuristanis, Uzbeks, and a number of other ethnic groups.

It is, however, understood that the Taliban cannot and should not accommodate those who are more loyal to their foreign masters than the Afghan people.

The Taliban also have a point when they say if the Ashraf Ghani regime was considered inclusive then all those who worked in his administration have been retained in the present set up. Therefore, there is no justification for foreign countries to dictate their terms on this account.

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