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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Wednesday, feared that the looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan can even turn to worst, which would have consequences not only for the Afghan people, but also to Pakistan and the whole region.

In a statement, Qureshi called for the world community’s timely response in order to avert the imminent looming humanitarian crisis in the war-ravaged Afghanistan, adding that Afghanistan’s imminent economic collapse would be disastrous that would have repercussions not only for Pakistan, but for the whole region and beyond.

The foreign minister said that any humanitarian crisis would lead to a new refugee influx in Pakistan, which is already hosting over four million Afghan refugees despite, limited resources.

To discuss the situation, he added that Pakistan will host an extraordinary session of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) on December 19 to mobilise support for providing adequate food, medicine, and housing to millions of Afghans in dire distress.

He said that invitations had been extended to all OIC member states, besides P-5 of the UN Security Council, key European countries and representatives of the UN agencies to attend the forthcoming extraordinary session.

Qureshi said it would be appropriate that an opportunity should also be given to the representatives of the interim government to present their point of view in the moot.

He said the UN had warned that 60 percent of Afghanistan’s 38 million people were facing hunger or starvation and there is a dire humanitarian crisis looming. He further stated that the international organisations have warned that 95 percent of the Afghans would slip below the poverty line by the mid of 2022, if immediate response is not given to the situation.

Qureshi also called for easing the international sanctions on aid to Afghanistan, adding that the UN, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were also now endorsing Pakistan’s point of view, as they had also been warned of a worst humanitarian crisis, if the sanctions on Afghanistan were not reviewed. Similarly, he added that the banking system in Afghanistan was not functional, which was further adding to the problems of the Afghan people.

“We are fulfilling our responsibility, but Pakistan alone cannot fulfill this responsibility,” he said, adding that Afghanistan is facing famine like situation due to lack of rains, while the interim government has no money to pay salaries of the government servants. He maintained that 75 percent of the budget of Afghanistan is dependent on external assistance, while their monetary reserve of $9.5 billion is frozen.

“If the international community continues to show apathy towards Afghans, who have already been facing conflict for decades, they will fall victim to the grave situation. People including young children will starve to death,” he further warned.

The foreign minister also chaired a high-level meeting at the Foreign Office, Wednesday, to review the arrangements for the extraordinary meeting of the OIC-CFM. The meeting was attended by Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar, and senior officials of the Foreign Ministry, besides by senior officials of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

According to a statement of the Foreign Office, Foreign Minister Qureshi was given a detailed briefing on various aspects of the arrangements for the forthcoming extraordinary meeting of the OIC-CFM and expressed satisfaction over the arrangements.

Qureshi said that Pakistan is hosting the OIC-CFM after 41 years, which would provide an opportunity to deliberate upon the emerging humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and to work out a common strategy for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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