Afghanistan’s Taliban have refused earthquake-related relief assistance from Pakistan due to a controversial social media post by Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar.
The controversy began after a significant earthquake, with a magnitude of 6.3, struck parts of Afghanistan’s western province of Herat. Pakistan quickly announced its intention to dispatch a transport plane loaded with aid, including 5,000 tents, 15,000 blankets, food items, medical supplies, and a team of medical doctors to assist the victims of the disaster.
The refusal to accept aid was confirmed by a senior Taliban official who spoke anonymously due to not being authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
The National Disaster Management Authority prepared this aid package, sharing the details officially. However, the situation took a turn when Prime Minister Kakar made a post on a social media platform, stating that the aid was being sent at the request of the Taliban government. This was despite the fact that Kabul had not officially sought foreign aid for relief efforts.
Kakar’s post also contained inaccuracies regarding the items his government planned to send to Afghanistan. He claimed that the Afghan government had specifically asked for a medical team, a field hospital, 50 tents, and 500 blankets, all of which were to be dispatched shortly.
Surprisingly, the Pakistani plane carrying the aid has not yet taken off, and neither side has provided an official explanation for the delay.
On the Pakistani side, an official questioned the Taliban’s assertions and explained that Kabul had neither accepted nor declined the aid officially. The official, speaking on condition of privacy, stated that Kabul had made a formal request for assistance and had informed Pakistan that they would communicate when the aid could be sent.
Pakistan’s recent developments, which include the deportation of all unlawful Afghan immigrants, the implementation of limitations on Afghan imports, and the policy regarding visas for Afghans, have further complicated the relationship.
During a weekly news briefing, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, expressed deep sympathy for the Afghan people following the earthquake. She added that Pakistan remained in contact with the Interim Afghan Government to meet any needs for relief and recovery, without providing further details on why the aid had not been dispatched yet.
Pakistan has made it quite clear that the November 1 deadline does not apply to the more than 800,000 Afghan citizens with valid passports and the 1.4 million officially recognized refugees living in the nation.
This situation has highlighted the complexities in the relationship between the two neighboring countries and the challenges in providing humanitarian assistance amid political sensitivities and strained ties.
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In addition to this issue, Pakistan has voiced concerns over the Israeli authorities’ use of force in Gaza, condemning the “indiscriminate and disproportionate” use of violence against the civilian population. Pakistan has called for an immediate end to hostilities, urged Israel to lift the blockade and allow unhindered access to humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people. Pakistan has also emphasized the importance of a two-state solution for lasting peace in the Middle East.