- Orders immediate shipment of 50,000 MT of wheat and emergency medical supplies
Prime Minister Imran Khan has approved a humanitarian assistance package worth Rs5 billion for Afghanistan at the first apex committee meeting of the newly-established Afghanistan Inter-Ministerial Coordination Cell (AICC), the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said in a statement on Monday.
The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Advisor on Finance Shaukat Fayaz Tarin, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yousaf and senior civil and military officers.
The premier instructed all ministries to make efforts to facilitate Afghans. He ordered the immediate shipment of in-kind humanitarian assistance worth Rs5 billion, comprising food commodities including 50,000 MT of wheat, emergency medical supplies, winter shelters, and other supplies. He also approved in-principle tariff and sales tax reduction on key Afghan exports to Pakistan.
Prime Minister Khan also directed to continue the provision of free-of-charge vaccination against Covid-19 to the Afghans crossing land borders.
“Pakistan will also facilitate the return of Afghan patients who had gone to India for medical treatment and are stuck there,” the PMO statement said.
Welcoming the Prime Minister, the Dr Yusuf, who is also the Convener of AICC, made a detailed presentation to brief the civil and military leadership on the current economic situation in Afghanistan and the progress made by AICC in coordinating national efforts for humanitarian assistance and border facilitation for Afghans.
The PM appreciated the work of the AICC in coordinating Pakistan’s policy and expressed satisfaction at the improved border management protocols.
The premier ordered that capacity of border staff be enhanced further and instructed that no arbitrary closures of borders for trade should be allowed. The Prime Minister also ordered that bus service between Peshawar and Jalalabad be revived to facilitate travelers on both sides.
"To further facilitate Afghans, the visa duration will be relaxed such that visas are granted within three weeks at the most," the PMO office said.
"Participants expressed concerns about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and emphasised that Pakistan will 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 who can meet any adversity but that the world owed its support to ensure that they can 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, it added.
The premier also instructed the National Security Adviser to visit Afghanistan to hold delegation-level talks and agree on specific areas where immediate capacity-building support shall be provided to Afghans.