Whether it was the former USSR’s occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s or the US war from 2001-2021, Afghanistan was under war and unrest for almost four decades. Not only Afghanistan was destroyed completely but has affected the whole region, especially Pakistan. Pakistan was one of the fastest growing economies in the 1960s, and 1970s, but with the start of the war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Pakistan’s economy started deteriorating consecutively on yearly basis. Pakistan has not only sacrificed around 80,000 precious human lives but also an estimated economic loss of around US Dollars 250 Billion. Extremism, Terrorism, Drug culture, and Gun Culture was additional gift of the Afghan war.
Since the US withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan and over-taken by the Taliban on 15 August 2021, there appears hope for peace and stability. It has benefited Afghanistan immensely but also has shown positive developments in the whole region. Regional developments and prosperity are linked to peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Pakistan is all out to stand with the people of Afghanistan to boost their economy and well-being. In this context, Pakistan and Afghanistan are likely to agree on the development of a multimodal Air-to-Road Corridor, which will contribute significantly to the economic development of both countries. Pakistan underscored the need for urgent international humanitarian assistance for the Afghan people while reiterating its support for a peaceful, united, stable, and prosperous Afghanistan. Pakistan-China plan to extend CPEC to Afghanistan is proof of Pakistan’s firm commitment to a peaceful, stable, prosperous, and connected Afghanistan.
Since September 2021, over 14945 Tons of humanitarian assistance has been sent to Afghanistan via 694 trucks and four C130 planes under arrangements of the Pak-Afghan Cooperation Forum (PACF). In the wake of the recent earthquake in Afghanistan, Pakistan has opened its border in South Waziristan and established a makeshift medical facility. Relief aids from Pakistan include food, clothing, blankets, medicines, etc. For ages, Pakistan is supporting reconstruction in the war-ravaged neighboring country by building hospitals, schools, and roads to help improve the lives of the Afghan people and its development assistance to Afghanistan has reached the US $1 billion so far. In 2019, Afghanistan’s second-largest hospital, Jinnah Hospital, which is a 200-bed, state-of-the-art medical facility in Kabul, was opened at a cost of more than $24 million as part of Pakistan’s contribution to reconstruction and development efforts.
Recently, Pakistan has offered to provide online education facilities for Afghan students – Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) and Virtual University (VU) will teach students through their TV network.
In 2020, the country’s Higher Education Commission (HEC) announced around 3,000 scholarships worth Rs. 1.5 billion Afghan students studying in different institutes of Pakistan in various fields, including medicine, engineering, agriculture, management, and computer science.
Pakistan has made exemplary efforts to reinvigorate bilateral economic relations to boost trade and investment through cooperation in diverse areas and frequent exchange of business delegations.
In a bid to reconstruct and rebuild Afghanistan, Pakistan has never acted as a traditional donor country which is evident from its four decades of hosting 3 million Afghan refugees and facilitation of the Afghan peace process prior to the Taliban takeover in August 2021.
From its limited resources, Pakistan is providing the US $500 million for capacity building in various sectors including education, and health as well as building schools, hospitals, roads, etc. communications infrastructures of Afghanistan. A few completed projects under Pakistan’s Bilateral Assistance Program are as under:-
Roads & Transportation Sector
o 75 Km Torkham – Jalalabad Road.
o Additional carriage Wayat Torkham – Jalalabad Road.
o 3 internal roads in Jalalabad.
o Traffic signals in Jalalabad city.
o Provision of road construction machinery.
o 30 Mobile hot mixers, generators, and medicines for Wardak Province.
o 200 Trucks & 100 Public transport buses.
o Rehman Baba School and Hostel, Kabul at cost of Rs: 120 million.
o Liaquat Ali Khan Engineering Faculty Block, Balkh University at cost of Rs: 1046 billion.
o Allama Iqbal faculty of Arts, Kabul University at cost of Rs: 672.54 million.
o Sir Syed Post-graduate faculty of sciences, Nangarhar University at cost of Rs: 389.65 million.
o 6 primary schools and 2 Vocational Training Institutes in Kabul and Baghlan.
o 10 Buses for Kabul and Nangarhar Universities.
o 300,000 School Kits for 18 provinces.
o 2000 fully funded scholarships for higher education in Pakistan.
o 500,000 refugee students enrolled in schools in Pakistan.
o Trained 644 Afghan police and drug control officers, doctors and paramedical staff, diplomats, judicial officers, customs officers, agriculturists, and bankers.
o Nishtar Kidney Centre, Jalalabad at a cost of USD 7 million.
o 400 Bed Jinnah Hospital, Kabul at a cost of USD118.854 million.
o Naeb Aminullah Khan Hospital, Logar at a cost of USD 20 million.
o 45 Ambulances for 12 provinces.
o 14 fully equipped mobile medical units at a cost of Rs 58020 million.
o Medicines for Kabul, Jalalabad and Kandahar.
o Free Eye Camps (still continued).
o A single philanthropic Pakistani organization performed over 30,000 free eye surgeries on Afghan patients in 2008 alone.
General Assistance included the provision of TV transmitters for Kandahar, a Digital Radio Link between Kabul and Peshawar, security equipment and computers, installation of 15 deep well hand pumps in villages of Kabul, and rehabilitation of Kabul Zoo and Deh Mazang Park.
It is desired that the International Community may also follow the same spirit and extend the much-needed humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan on emergency bases. Especially the developed nations should generously assist Afghanistan.