Imran urges global effort to avert humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday urged the international community to help Kabul avert a looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan where a socio-economic collapse is looming.

Pakistan would make every effort to help address the sufferings of the 40 million people of the neighbouring nation, he said while addressing the inaugural session of the Islamabad Conclave 2021 on “Peace and Prosperity in South Asia” at the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) predicted that almost 23 million people — more than half the population — will face crisis or emergency levels of acute food insecurity before 2022 spring: the highest rate ever recorded.

Afghanistan’s economy shrank by 40 percent after the Taliban seized power in August, on top of the devastation wrought by long-running conflict, the coronavirus pandemic and a severe drought.

Pakistan has argued it is time for the United States to unfreeze the $9 billion in frozen foreign exchange reserves and resume Kabul’s access to International Monetary Fund (IMF) resources.

For its part, Pakistan will host a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on December 19 to deliberate on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

Khan said Pakistan through the platform of OIC would play its part to reach out to the Afghan people who were in dire need of food, shelter and medicines.

He mentioned the freezing of Afghanistan’s foreign exchange reserves by the United States as one of the major factors behind the economic and humanitarian crisis. He said that due to the crisis in Afghanistan, Iran was also facing the burden of refugees.

The premier said peace in Afghanistan was not only vital for the future of Pakistan but also for the Central Asian States which were much interested in regional trade and connectivity.

Khan in his address spoke on various issues of regional and international interests including Pakistan-India relations, Kashmir dispute and climate change.

Prime Minister Khan while highlighting the importance of resolving the Kashmir dispute for peace and prosperity of the region said that the dispute had made the whole of South Asia hostage.

He recalled that after coming into power in August 2018, he contacted his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, and made efforts for the resumption of dialogue to resolve the outstanding disputes in a peaceful manner but New Delhi perceived it as Islamabad’s weakness.

The prime minister said he had a considered opinion that the disputes like Jammu and Kashmir could only be resolved through dialogue and not through “bomb and guns”. If the issues could be resolved through bullets, the United States should have won the war in Afghanistan, he observed.

The prime minister said it was unfortunate not only for the people of Kashmir but also for the 500 million-strong minorities living in India that the Modi regime — follower of the hostile Hindutva ideology of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) — was in power.

He maintained that India cannot achieve peace and development by marginalizing its minorities.

Khan said that Pakistan wished and prayed for a government in India with which it could talk with logic and argument for the just resolution of the Kashmir dispute through dialogue.

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