ISLAMABAD: Pakistani chief of army staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Thursday called for the creation of an “institutional mechanism” to channel humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, as Pakistan seeks to help a neighboring country facing famine and economic freefall.
The army chief’s comments come ahead of the 17th Extraordinary Session of the Organization of Islamic Corporation’s Council of Foreign Ministers, to be held on December 19 in Islamabad. The meeting’s focus is on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.
The United States and other donors cut off financial aid on which Afghanistan became dependent during 20 years of war and more than $9 billion of the country’s hard currency assets were frozen after the Taliban took over Kabul.
“COAS stressed upon the urgency for devising an institutional mechanism for channeling humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan in order to avert a looming humanitarian catastrophe,” General Bajwa was quoted as saying by the army’s media wing during a call with Admiral Sir Antony David Radakin, the 24th UK Chief of the Defense Staff.
“The British dignitary appreciated Pakistan’s role in Afghan situation, role in regional stability and pledged to play his part for further improvement in security cooperation with Pakistan at all levels.”
There have been growing warnings of the humanitarian crisis facing Afghanistan since international aid was abruptly cut following the Taliban takeover on August 15 and fears of disaster if the situation is not brought under control.
However, getting help in has been hindered by sanctions on dealing with the Taliban, the US decision to freeze billions of dollars of central bank reserves held outside Afghanistan and the collapse of much of the country’s banking system.
The United Nations is warning that nearly 23 million people – about 55 percent of the population – are facing extreme levels of hunger, with nearly 9 million at risk of famine as winter takes hold in the impoverished, landlocked country.