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Print Print 2021-08-30

'Marshall Plan' for Afghanistan on the cards?

  • Pakistan is likely to make an appeal to the international community to come forward and extend financial assistance for Afghanistan's rehabilitation
Published August 30, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is likely to prepare a 'Marshall Plan' for rehabilitation of devastated Afghanistan and will make an appeal to the international community to come forward and extend financial assistance in this regard, well-informed sources told Business Recorder.

This proposal was considered at a recent meeting of the Federal Cabinet, wherein implications of the fall of Kabul came under discussion.

Recent statements by the Prime Minister and cabinet members are part of a strategy to seek international financial assistance for Afghanistan. Almost all Pakistani authorities are now urging the international community not to isolate Afghanistan, as presently things are not in favour of Taliban.

On August 24, 2021, briefing the Cabinet on the latest developments in Afghanistan, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Shah Mehmood Qureshi stated that the situation was still evolving and no definite assessment could be given at this point in time.

According to Foreign Minister, the conditions at the Kabul airport, which had been the focus of international media, were challenging as the US Forces were still managing the affairs inside the airport while the Taliban had control outside.

Foreign Minister's statement regarding Kabul airport came before the two suicide attacks at the Kabul airport which took over 170 lives including 13 US military personnel.

WB ‘deeply concerned,’ pauses aid to Afghanistan

The initial statements from Taliban of general amnesty, an inclusive political settlement, protection of women's rights and assuring not to allow anyone to use their land against any country, were all indicative of a different approach but the West was still sceptical if the Taliban would walk the talk.

Explaining the positive role being played by Pakistan, the Foreign Minister further stated that evacuation of around 3,400 people of different nationalities, including the staff of international organizations, had been facilitated. In addition, Pakistan Embassy and Consulates were working round the clock to issue visas to Afghans and other nationals, besides providing consular services to the stranded Pakistanis.

Speaking of the three critical challenges, the foreign minister hoped that firstly, the evacuation process was completed peacefully, secondly, the standoff in Panjshir was diffused through negotiations and, lastly, both sides show flexibility to reach an agreement on an inclusive government, which was acceptable to the international community.

He averred that at the moment, there were two tracks under way in regard to the Afghan peace process. One was between the regional countries, including Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and the other was taking place in Doha, which involved Pakistan, China, Russia and the United States.

IMF hails PM's role in evacuation of personnel from Afghanistan

The Cabinet Members felt that another brewing challenge for Afghanistan was the economic difficulties in the face of $ 9.4 billion Afghan foreign reserves frozen by the United States and $ 4.5billion withheld by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The Taliban have already requested Pakistan to allow bilateral trade in Pak Rupee.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce & Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood noted that trade between the two countries was continuing normally at the moment but expressed concern over the arrangement of trading in Pak Rupee, should it become prolonged.

During the Cabinet meeting an opinion was expressed that Pakistan take the lead in mobilizing a 'Marshall Plan' type international assistance for rebuilding Afghanistan, on humanitarian grounds. It was suggested that Finance, Foreign Affairs and Commerce Divisions should jointly deliberate and develop possible political and economic scenarios which might emerge in Afghanistan along with consequent response options for Pakistan.

The famous Marshall Plan was an American initiative passed in 1948 for foreign aid to Western Europe. The US transferred over $13 billion in economic recovery programs to Western European economies after the end of World War II.

After detailed discussion, the Federal Cabinet directed Ministries of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Commerce to deliberate and develop possible political and economic scenarios which might emerge in Afghanistan along with consequent response options for Pakistan.

When contacted, Prime Minister Advisor on Commerce and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood said that trade with Afghanistan is normal and trucks are crossing the border easily. To a question, he said, there was general discussion on Afghanistan in the Cabinet and nothing was mentioned about any plan for Afghanistan, adding that the plan is "wait and see".

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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MD Aug 30, 2021 11:06am
Why not Marshal Plan for Pakistan first?
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