Tue. Dec 7th, 2021

Prime Minister Imran Khan, chairman of the Afghan Assistance Committee, also authorizes the transportation of Indian food aid.

Islamabad, Pakistan Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced more than $ 28 million in medical, food and other humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, while also authorizing the transportation of food aid from India through Pakistan to Afghanistan, his office said.

Khan met on Monday in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, his country’s army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and top government officials, including the foreign minister, finance minister and national security adviser.

“[The PM] order an immediate consignment of humanitarian aid worth 5 billion Pakistani rupees [roughly $28.4m], which will include food commodities, including 50,000 [metric tonnes] of wheat, emergency medical supplies, winter shelters and other supplies, ”reads a statement issued after the meeting.

The Pakistani government will also reduce tariffs and sales taxes on certain Afghan exports to Pakistan, the statement said.

Khan’s office said it would allow 50,000 metric tons of wheat offered by India as humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to “pass through Pakistan once modalities with the Indian side have been finalized”.

The aid was offered earlier this month, and on November 11, the Indian Foreign Ministry said it was facing obstacles to gaining access to Afghanistan.

“[W]”I looked at the possibilities, but there were problems due to a lack of unrestricted access,” said Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Pakistan says it will also facilitate the return of Afghans seeking medical treatment in India and who have been stranded there since the Taliban takeover of Pakistan’s northwestern neighbor in August.

A delegation of Afghan health officials will visit Islamabad for talks with Pakistani counterparts on Pakistani humanitarian aid, the statement said.

Top US delegation visits

Also on Monday, a delegation of two senior US congressmen – the chair of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, Gregory Meeks and chair of the Asia Subcommittee on Foreign Affairs, Ami Bera – held talks in Islamabad with the Pakistani Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and other officials.

In their meeting, Khan reiterated the Pakistani view that there is a need to liaise with the Taliban government in Kabul to prevent a potential humanitarian disaster, his office said in a statement.

“The Prime Minister also hoped that ways and means would be found to address the liquidity issue and enable banking channels to help Afghanistan maintain its immediate economic burden and challenges,” the statement said, referring to more than $ 9.5 billion in Afghan central bank reserves stay frozen by the USA.

A brief statement from the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee confirmed the visit and the two members of Congress’ meetings.

“While in Pakistan, the delegation expressed appreciation for Pakistan’s efforts to support the evacuation of US citizens and legal permanent residents from Afghanistan, and exchanged views on a wide range of issues, including against terrorism, the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, climate change and trade, “reads the US statement.

Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera’s digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweeted @AsadHashim.

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