War-torn Afghanistan is facing severe challenges. The abrupt evacuation of the US troops, and instant surrender of the Afghan National Army, have not given time for the Taliban to plan for governance. The irony is that while leaving Afghanistan, the US has frozen all assets and damaged the infrastructure of Afghanistan. IMF, World Bank, International Financial Institutions, and donors have stopped any financial support to Afghanistan. Yet, imposing sanctions and putting irrational demands and conditions. After bombing the country for twenty years, yet not satisfied and are trying to collapse the country economically.
Afghanistan is in shortage of food, fuel, energy, electricity, medicines, etc., imposing a severe threat to human lives.
The UN has arranged a high-level meeting in Geneva, to discuss the Afghan situation, paving ways for humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. The meeting was hosted by UN Secretary-General António Guterres with the participation of heads of various UN agencies including OCHA, UNICEF, WFP, UNFPA, UNHCR, and ICRC. The meeting was also attended by a number of Ministers from various countries including, Switzerland, Qatar, Germany, the UK, the U.S., Turkey, and France.
Afghanistan represents an important opportunity as it begins its journey towards sustainable peace and development. The recurring cycles of conflict and instability during the last 4 decades can finally be stopped.
The challenges are daunting. The situation is becoming dire for around 18 million people of Afghanistan – directly in need of humanitarian assistance. A sluggish response from the international community can cause grave humanitarian consequences.
Solidarity must be shown with the Afghan people at this pivotal juncture, both in terms of financial and political support. It is time to renew developmental partnerships, support nation-building, and meet the humanitarian needs of the Afghan population.
Durable solutions require scaling up developmental interventions, provision of livelihood opportunities, and ensuring access to basic necessities such as food, health, and education for the Afghan people.
Whilst focus on the humanitarian situation inside Afghanistan, we must not forget millions of Afghans in large refugee-hosting countries, for whom the international support has dwindled over the years. In line with the principle of international responsibility and burden sharing, host communities must be supported especially during these challenging times of COVID-19.
On its part, Pakistan has been supporting the humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan in several ways, including by facilitating the evacuation and relocation of international staff, and the establishment of a humanitarian corridor for the delivery of relief goods through air and land routes.
Pakistan has been already airlifting humanitarian assistance comprising food and medicines to Afghanistan, which will be followed by supplies through land routes as well. Pakistan continues to host more than 3 million Afghan refugees, for over 4 decades. Over the years, and have also earmarked over one billion U.S. dollars for a range of development projects in Afghanistan.
Being a responsible state, Pakistan reaffirms its commitment today to support the provision of humanitarian relief to the Afghan people under the UN umbrella, as well as the continuity of our in-kind assistance to Afghanistan. We will also continue to facilitate the UN in its humanitarian relief efforts by providing logistical and other support through Pakistan.
Ensuring sustainable development and promoting respect for human rights requires political stability and peace in Afghanistan. And peace cannot consolidate unless Afghanistan is provided the necessary economic and fiscal space.
Past mistakes must not be repeated. The Afghan people must not be abandoned. It is essential to take a long-term view and adopt a pragmatic approach. Sustained engagement with Afghanistan, especially for meeting its humanitarian needs, is indispensable. Pakistan appreciates the leadership shown by the UN Secretary-General on this account, and the UN agencies playing a leading role in ensuring humanitarian supplies.
After four decades of unrest and instability, there seems a ray of hope for peace in Afghanistan. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity. The UN should make all possible efforts and extend full support toward sustainable and permanent peace in Afghanistan. All the regional countries may also contribute toward Afghan peace and stability. As a matter of fact, Peace and stability in Afghanistan may lead to peace and stability in the entire region. Russia and China, being big powers in this region may play a vital role. Be generous!