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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tuesday assessed the needs of Afghanistan and observed various options for immediate intervention, including food supply and capacity building, to help the country and avoid the looming crisis.

This was revealed by senior officials after attending a high-level meeting chaired by Omar Ayub Khan, Minister for Economic Affairs, which met to discuss the bilateral economic cooperation with Afghanistan.

The meeting was attended by Syed Fakhar Imam, Minister for National Food Security and Research, Moeed W Yusuf, SAPM on National Security and Strategic Policy Planning, Reza Baqir, Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Lt Gen (retired) Muzzammil Hussain, chairman WAPDA, and other senior officials.

Sources revealed that the meeting observed the needs for immediate intervention in terms of capacity building as a vacuum was created and skilled people were needed to run the affairs like in the power sector as well as other sectors.

Further, it observed the need for wheat and other food supply on humanitarian basis to avoid food crisis in the country.

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Dr Reza Baqir, governor SBP, presented various options to support Da Afghanistan Bank (Central Bank) for its smooth functioning; and to achieve price stability and help manage economic fluctuations.

Sources revealed that the governor SBP also informed the meeting about the challenges created for Pakistan in the context of Afghanistan situation in terms of exchange rate depreciation.

It was informed that the inflow of dollars was reversed due to shortage in Afghanistan, which is exerting pressure on the local currency in Pakistan, the sources added.

The minister for economic affairs highlighted the importance of bilateral economic assistance for Afghanistan in the context of the current situation.

The minister expressed that they are keen to support the people of Afghanistan to address their socio-economic challenges.

It was further discussed that in order to save lives and livelihood of the Afghan people, immediate technical and financial support is required on humanitarian basis.

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The minister also apprised that Pakistan has already implemented 20 projects costing $148.35 million in various sectors including education, health, and infrastructure, while nine other projects costing $221.83 million are under execution in Afghanistan.

Pakistan also provides 3,000 Allama Muhammad Iqbal Scholarships to Afghan students in various disciplines.

Syed Fakhar Imam expressed that reports regarding a severe food crisis for over 14 million Afghan people are alarming.

Expressing his concern over the situation, the minister stressed on the need of support and solidarity of the international community for the people of Afghanistan.

Moeed W Yusuf stated that a coordinated effort is the need of the hour to avoid overlapping of resources.

He apprised that on the directions of the prime minister, the National Security Division has also started consultations with various stakeholders for workable policy options.

The participants appreciated the efforts of the EAD for arranging the meeting for meaningful consultation with all the relevant stakeholders.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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