ISLAMABAD: As a humanitarian crisis unfolds in Afghanistan, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry announced on Tuesday that Pakistan is trying to hold an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) foreign ministers conference in Islamabad to appeal to the Muslim Ummah to help the war-torn country.
“We are also trying to hold an OIC foreign ministers conference in Islamabad [on Afghanistan] which is likely to be held next month,” said Fawad in a press conference after the cabinet meeting. He added that Islamabad will “appeal to the Muslim Ummah to come together and help the people of Afghanistan”.
The minister reiterated that Pakistan has been warning the world since “day one” of a humanitarian crisis unfolding in Afghanistan.
“If the world does not play its role then a humanitarian crisis can take place in Afghanistan. Right now Afghanistan’s situation we believe is alarming,” said Fawad. He also shared snippets from The Economists October 30 article that cited a UN report of a humanitarian crisis in the country.
“There are very troubling reports coming from Afghanistan. Where even minor children are sold for wheat and rice. We believe that what’s going on in Afghanistan is catastrophic,” said the minister.
Fawad said that Pakistan tried conveying these concerns and the federal cabinet has now decided to take action to help Afghanistan.
Apart from the OIC meeting, Fawad announced, that the cabinet has decided to send “sufficient amounts of wheat and rice to Afghanistan”.
“We are taking measures [through] which Afghanistan’s import to Pakistan can be eased out. We have slashed all taxes on Afghanistan’s imports [as a measure],” said Fawad. I would like to also announce that the cabinet has decided to establish a “special fund” where Pakistanis can contribute if they wish to help the Afghans, he said.
The minister said that the interim foreign minister of Afghanistan is also due to arrive in Pakistan “day after tomorrow” where the situation in the neighbouring country will be discussed.
“Cabinet has made an appeal today to the people of the world and also especially to the people of Muslim countries that we must come together and help Afghanistan,” said Fawad, while warning that things are “getting out of hand”.
“The primary reason that led to Afghanistan’s present situation is assets of Afghanistan are frozen. Likewise, Afghanistan’s economy was dependent on foreign aid [and] right now there is no aid. So the whole Afghanistan’s economy has a meltdown,” warned Fawad.
Talks with TTP held on Afghan Taliban’s recommendations
The information minister also spoke about talks held with the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), saying that they were done on the recommendations of the Taliban government in Afghanistan.
“On TTP, even yesterday I made a statement and it was very clear the negotiations or talks those are going on will be under the purview of Pakistan’s Constitution,” said Fawad. All the groups that we are talking will have to respect Pakistan’s Constitution and legal framework, he said.
The minister said that within the TTP there are certain people who have legitimate concerns but “all of them are Pakistanis”.
“The state of Pakistan wants to give its citizens a chance. If all of them or some of them want to come back and they express their allegiance to the Constitution of Pakistan we will give them a chance,” said Fawad.
The minister said that Pakistan is willing to talk as it has a “position of strength”.
“Afghan authorities also requested us to get into negotiations with TTP. They want us to negotiate a deal with TTP and we believe that they have good intentions towards Pakistan,” said Fawad.