Special cell to coordinate Afghan-related matters

Published October 9, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs the NSC meeting on Friday. — Photo courtesy: PMO
Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs the NSC meeting on Friday. — Photo courtesy: PMO

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday ordered setting up of a special body for coordinating Afghanistan-related matters.

The prime minister “directed the establishment of a dedicated cell to synergise various streams of efforts on Afghanistan across the government, including international coordination for humanitarian assistance and effective border management to prevent any negative spillover into Pakistan,” the PM Office said in a statement on the meeting of the National Security Committee.

The NSC, which is the top body for coordination on security issues, had met to discuss the developments in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s approach for dealing with them.

The meeting chaired by PM Khan was attended by key federal ministers, national security adviser, services chiefs and heads of intelligence agencies.

Pakistan has not only been providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, but has also extended trade facilitation to Afghan traders for promoting their exports. The trade concessions have tipped the trade balance in favour of Afghanistan.

NSC urges world community to provide assistance to Kabul to avert humanitarian crisis

The government is also planning to extend a financial and technical package to the Taliban regime that is faced with the twin looming crises of economic collapse and humanitarian disaster. The situation has been aggravated by the drought in the country.

More than 18 million Afghans need urgent assistance, including nearly a million children who are at risk of starvation, according to Unicef.

The economic crisis has emerged after Western donors pulled the plug on assistance for Afghanistan, which was the mainstay of Afghan economy, following the Taliban takeover. Moreover, the US has frozen Afghan reserves and international lending agencies have blocked Taliban regime’s access to their funds.

Mr Khan, in view of the diverse support being extended to Taliban in Afghanistan, emphasised the need for a coordinated policy effort.

“The prime minister was given a detailed briefing on the evolving regional security situation, particularly the recent developments in Afghanistan and their possible impact on Pakistan,” the PMO said.

“Committee members emphasised that the evolving situation in the region was extremely complex and that any instability in Afghanistan could have severe implications for Pakistan,” it further said.

Islamabad has lobbied hard with the international community to persuade it to engage with the Taliban regime, grant it recognition, and resume development assistance so that the prospects of viability of the new set-up could improve.

The international community has generously provided humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, but has linked development assistance to the recognition of the new government. The recognition issue further depends on Taliban meeting demands about formation of an inclusive ruling set-up, observance of rights, and fulfillment of counter-terrorism commitments.

The world is, however, not satisfied with Taliban’s progress towards meeting of these requirements.

The members of the NSC, while noting the dire humanitarian situation in Afghanistan emphasised the urgent need for the international community to provide assistance to avert a humanitarian crisis.

“The importance of international coordination on constructive political and economic engagement with the interim government in Afghanistan was also highlighted,” the PMO said.

Published in Dawn, October 9th, 2021

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