The dire situation in Afghanistan is possibly the biggest humanitarian crisis currently unfolding in the world and deserves a swift and coordinated response from the international community, Pakistan’s ambassador to Turkey said.
“According to UN estimates, around 60% or more of the Afghan population, especially children, are at serious risk of starvation, malnutrition and lack access to health care and medicine,” he said. declared Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi.
The looming winter season is expected to be particularly difficult for Afghans, he warned.
“There are multiple factors that affect the lives of ordinary Afghans, and this situation requires a concerted, rapid, very rapid and coordinated response from the global community,” he said.
Qazi said the Afghan crisis will be the main focus at a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, later this week.
The OIC aims to deliver “a very strong message” urging the international community to work individually and in cooperation “to help contain and reverse the worst aspects of this crisis,” the envoy said.
“Significant commitments” are expected from several countries to step up crisis mitigation efforts, he added.
â€œPakistan is not a very rich country. But since we are the immediate neighbors of Afghanistan, we have done everything possible to help our Afghan brothers, â€said Qazi.
â€œFor example, in October we sent around 550 tonnes of food. Our Prime Minister recently announced packages of medicine, food and other items worth more than $ 28 million.
Islamabad has also allowed India to use its overland routes to send aid to Afghanistan, while reducing tariffs on a number of Afghan products exported to Pakistan, the envoy added.
“This is all just to show other countries what they can do for Afghanistan as well,” he said.
However, he stressed that aid programs can only offer fleeting moments of relief to Afghans, and that the country’s dire situation requires comprehensive efforts on the part of the international community for a lasting and long-term solution.
Regarding relations between Turkey and Pakistan, Qazi said the nations have “perhaps the best bilateral relationship in the world between two countries which are not geographic neighbors”.
Prime Minister Imran Khan was due to visit Turkey in October for a meeting of the Turkey-Pakistan High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council, but the trip had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 situation, the envoy said.
Islamabad is trying to reschedule the visit “soon enough”, he added.
The two sides have a “very comprehensive” agenda for the meeting, which will build on the strategic economic framework agreement signed during President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Islamabad in 2020.
“Progressing on a plan of more than 70 specific actions within a specified time frame, Pakistan and Turkey should include a mechanism for bilateral engagement in the defense sector, as well as in various other areas,” Qazi said.
He said the defense sector has become another very important pillar in Turkish-Pakistani relations.
“The sky is the limit. There is no end to the type of cooperation that can occur between real sister countries like Pakistan and Turkey,” he said.
He added that Ankara and Islamabad have almost completed a study on their bilateral trade relations, which will give new impetus to efforts to further strengthen their economic relations.
Turkey’s trade volume with Pakistan currently stands at around $ 1 billion, indicating gradual progress but “not the kind the two countries or both leaders would like,” the diplomat said.
Qazi also pointed out that Pakistan and Turkey “have a very strong tradition of helping each other in various forums on various issues”, citing Turkey’s position on the Kashmir issue as an example.
â€œLikewise, Pakistan supports Turkey’s position on almost all international issues, including the issue of Northern Cyprus. We call for a fair and equitable solution to this problem, â€he said.