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ISLAMABAD: Neighbouring powers such as China and Russia should take the lead to resolve the humanitarian crises in Afghanistan otherwise the whole region can be hit due to the crisis as it is a threat to regional security.

This was the crux of a plenary session, “Humanitarian Crisis in Afghanistan: Need for Regional & Global Responses” held on the occasion of last day of 24th Sustainable Development Conference titled: Beyond the Pandemic: Leaving no one Behind, organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, here on Thursday.

Canadian High Commissioner Wendy Gilmour said “Canada is committed to resolving humanitarian crises in Afghanistan, but it is linked to the type of government to be set up there.”

Canada, she said, was working with the de-facto administration in the country to ensure that they lived up to the commitments they had made to the international community earlier.

Chris Kaye, country director, World Food Programme, said 8.7 million people were one step away from a catastrophe, i.e., famine, one million children were at risk of death from malnutrition, and only 4.3 million could have received one dose of Covid vaccine.

People were selling their children, while more and more people were selling their household goods, he mentioned.

Melinda Good from the World Bank said even before the fall of the government, Afghanistan was facing acute economic crisis. A lot of work needs to be done on essential, basic and lifesaving services for humanitarian support.

Former ambassador Naghmana Hashmi said innovative measures should be taken to eradicate poverty and food insecurity from Afghanistan. Above all, their value system must be respected by the world, she added.

Haroon Sharif, ex-chairperson of Board of Investment said the crisis had started when the US decided to leave from Bagram airbase. He said there was an absolute absence of a financial system, so it was a health crisis, food crisis, and trust deficit because of the delivery system failure.

He said the BISP cash transfer programme could be extended to Afghanistan.

Speaking at a session on Gender Inclusive Development amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Senator Sherry Rehman said 1.4 women die during childbirth every hour. Population growth in Pakistan is increasing at a 2.5 percent rate, which shows that the country definitely needs a law to stop early marriages. In Sindh, three out of five women experience violence at home and the violence record has increased by 200 percent since early 2020. She emphasised the need to control environmental pollution by controlling industrial and transport emissions by converting. She said: “transformational change comes from governments in coordination with the opposition” and that most religious extremism and honour killings can be resolved by making a unanimous decision behind closed doors.

Dr Abid Suleri said “women constitute 51 percent of our population, so leaving them behind means slowing down the development process.”

At a session on “Crisis is an Opportunity to Learn” speakers stressed that for functional public policy, policymakers and stakeholders must learn perfect insight into governance approaches, evidence integration, knowledge management and data mining.

Dr Ishrat Husain, former advisor to the Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms and Austerity highlighted the need of aggregating evidence into research and policy design.

He said the culture of informed public policy-making in Pakistan had just taken birth.

Dr Asim Ijaz Khwaja, director, Centre for International Development and the Sumitomo-(FASID) said the real problem was not gathering or collecting data, rather it was processing and applying that data.

Maroof A Syed, CEO, Centre for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP) emphasised the retention of learning and applying that in real time.

Naveed Aziz, advisor, FCDO, threw light on the evident difference between data and evidence.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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