Sluggish response over Afghanistan to cause humanitarian consequences: FM

350 Mahmood Qureshi

ISLAMABAD (APP): Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi Monday cautioned the international community against a sluggish response over Afghanistan as it could cause grave humanitarian consequences.

“The challenges are daunting. The situation is becoming dire for around 18 million people of Afghanistan – directly in need of humanitarian assistance,” the foreign minister said in a statement delivered in a high-level ministerial meeting held in a hybrid format, in Geneva on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan

The foreign minister said solidarity must be shown with the Afghan people at this pivotal juncture, both in terms of financial and political support, adding it was a time to renew developmental partnerships, support nation-building, and meet the humanitarian needs of the Afghan population.

“Today’s 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,” he opined.

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.

He said when they focused on the humanitarian situation inside Afghanistan, they must not forget millions of Afghans in large refugee-hosting countries, for whom the international support had dwindled over the years.

In line with the principle of international responsibility and burden sharing, Qureshi said, host communities must be supported especially during these challenging times of COVID-19. 

“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,” he stressed.

The foreign minister said on its part, Pakistan had 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.

“We are 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, we have also earmarked over one billion U.S. dollars for a range of development projects in Afghanistan,” he added.

The minister said that they reaffirmed their commitment to support the provision of humanitarian relief to the Afghan people under the UN umbrella, as well as the continuity of 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,” he said, adding Pakistan welcomed and appreciated the efforts of the United Nations to provide much-needed humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.

Qureshi said ensuring sustainable development and promoting respect for human rights required political stability and peace in Afghanistan.

He said sustained engagement with Afghanistan, especially for meeting its humanitarian needs, was indispensable.

Pakistan appreciated the leadership shown by the UN Secretary-General on this account, and the UN agencies playing a leading role in ensuring humanitarian supplies, he added.

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