ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday visited the newly established Afghanistan Inter-Ministerial Coordination Cell (AICC) where he chaired the first Apex Committee Meeting of the AICC.
The meeting was attended by the Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the Advisor on Finance Shaukat Fayaz Tarin, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the National Security Adviser Dr. Moeed Yousaf, and senior civil and military officers.
The prime minister instructed all ministries to facilitate Afghans to the maximum. He ordered the immediate shipment of in-kind humanitarian assistance worth Rs 5 billion, which will comprise food commodities including 50,000 MT of wheat, emergency medical supplies, winter shelters, and other supplies.
The prime minister also approved in-principle tariff and sales tax reduction on key Afghan exports to Pakistan.
Imran Khan also ordered that the facility of free COVID vaccination for all Afghans entering Pakistan from land borders be continued. Pakistan initiated the free vaccination of Afghans on November 13.
The prime minister also announced Pakistan’s decision to allow the 50,000 MT of wheat India has offered to provide Afghanistan as humanitarian assistance to go through Pakistan as soon as modalities are finalized with the Indian side.
Pakistan will also facilitate the return of Afghan patients who had gone to India for medical treatment and are stuck there, the prime minister announced.
Welcoming the prime minister, the National Security Adviser Dr. Moeed Yusuf, who is also the Convener of the AICC, made a detailed presentation to brief the civil and military leadership on the current economic situation in Afghanistan and the progress made by the AICC in coordinating national efforts for humanitarian assistance and border facilitation for Afghans.
Prime Minister Imran Khan appreciated the work of the AICC in coordinating Pakistan’s policy and expressed satisfaction at the improved border management protocols.
The prime minister 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 participants expressed concerns about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and emphasized that Pakistan will not abandon Afghans in their time of need.
Prime Minister Imran Khan took the opportunity to remind the international community of the collective responsibility to support Afghanistan to avoid a humanitarian crisis.
The prime minister highlighted that Afghans were one of the bravest nations of earth 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.
Meanwhile, the prime minister 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.