By Nation correspondent
LONDON: Lord Zameer Choudrey has emphasised that this is the high time that the international community should come forward and extend every possible help to the badly needed people of Afghanistan. “Hundreds of thousands people especially the women and children are looking towards the world for emergency assistance and it is our prime duty to help these people of war-torn country and serve the humanity”, he urged while addressing a reception hosted in honour of visiting Governor of Punjab Choudhary Mohammad Sarwar by Conservative Friends of Pakistan at the House of Lords on Monday.
Lord Zameer Choudrey said that the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is intensifying with UN officials describing the situation as “desperate.” According to the UN, 23 million Afghans need food assistance. Millions face starvation with winter setting in while over 3 million children are at risk of severe malnutrition.
Referring a UNDP report, he said that 97 percent of Afghans could fall below the poverty line unless the crisis is addressed. An estimated 3.5 million internally displaced people are also in urgent need of help. The economy of war-torn and devastated country is imploding and there is no cash left for people’s everyday transactions.
Lord Zameer Choudrey said that US sanctions against the Taliban are exacerbating this dire situation in many ways. Although Washington has extended millions of dollars in humanitarian assistance for the Afghan people, it has frozen billions of dollars of Afghanistan’s foreign exchange reserves and other assets lying in American banks, and also prevailed on the IMF and World Bank to suspend funding.
Expressing concern over the plight of children, the most affected section of population, he said that about 8,00,000 Afghan children are in desperate need of proper shelter as they are facing freezing conditions that could lead to illness or death.
“As reported by ‘Save The Children’ organisation, household surveys conducted by the UN found that around 1.6 million people are living in emergency tents or makeshift shelters – often no more than flimsy plastic sheets held up with sticks – which offer little protection from rain, snow and sub-zero temperatures. In addition, nearly 8.6 million children are living in households that do not have enough blankets while more than 3 million children lack the adequate facilities to tolerate the temperature”, he added.
Governor of Punjab Choudhary M. Sarwar
Addressing the event, Chief guest, Governor of Punjab Choudhary M. Sarwar stated that Afghanistan and its people need peace, stability and foremost basic amenities. “Afghanistan lacks all these three essential things and we all should work to deliver the goods”.
He said that the world should realise the fact that Afghan nation is brave and valour and its bravery had never been defeated by Soviet Union and the USA and history is the witness to it.
He said that apprehensions are that Afghanistan will shortly collapse into chaos unless the international community acts rapidly. “Afghanistan plunged into crisis after the hard-line Islamist Taliban movement drove out the Western-backed government in August triggering the abrupt end of billions of dollars in assistance to its aid-dependent economy”.
He said; “The country is on the brink of collapse and that collapse is coming faster than we thought. Economic freefall could provide an environment for terrorist groups to thrive. Many countries and multilateral institutions have halted development assistance but increased humanitarian aid since August, reluctant to legitimize the new Taliban rulers”.
Other speakers also highlight Afghan crisis
Those who also spoke at the occasion were including Lord Earl Freddy, Deputy leader, House of Lords, Mark Rory Logan MP (from Bolton North), James Barry Daly MP (from Bury North), Baroness Nosheena Shaheen Mobarik CBE (from Scotland), Oliver James Dowden CBE MP (Secretary of State) and Shakar Elahi (from CFoP) who moderated the event.
The speakers emphasised to make efforts for enhancing Pak-UK relations and cooperation in all sections of life and also urged for a serious approach to extend cooperation with Afghanistan.
They highlighted for direct engagement with the Taliban was the only way to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe, and called for billions of dollars of Afghan assets frozen overseas to be released. “Are we going to push Afghanistan into chaos or are we going to try and stabilize the country?” they asked.
They stated that engagement would also encourage the protection of human rights and the establishment of an inclusive, constitutional government. They were of the view that
Pakistan has deep ties with the Taliban and the Taliban had so far failed to prove they had shed the oppressive policies that marked their previous period in power from 1996-2001.
They said it was time the United States, China and other major powers set out a framework for formal recognition of Afghanistan’s new rulers and for the removal of United Nations sanctions on Taliban members, including some members of the new government.
Tribute to Sir Anwar Pervez
Introducing the Conservative Friends of Pakistan, Shakar Elahi, Director and Treasurer of CFoP, said this organisation seeks to build a stronger, wider and deeper relationship between the Conservative family and Pakistan. “CFoP will become a one-stop shop between Pakistan and the UK”.
While naming the distinguished guests, he especially mentioned Sir Anwar Pervez OBE, Hilal-e-Pakistan and Chairman of the Bestway Group. “Sir Anwar Pervez is the best example of hard work and commitment to our community’s life and always has been an inspiration to us all and we are thankful to him for all that he does”, he admired.
Apart from a large number of members of both houses of the parliament, Secretary of State Nadhim Zahawi MP, Pakistan High Commissioner Moazzam Ahmed Khan, Sir Anwar Pervez, Dawood Pervez, Rizwan Pervez, Haider Choudrey, Umair Choudery, Naser Khan, Lord Wajid Khan, Lord Hameed, Sahibzada Jahangir, Aneel Musarrat, Rabia Zia, M. Sarwar, P. J. Mir, Muzaffar Choudhary, Cllr. Tariq Dar, Mehboob Choudhary attended the event.