Pakistan’s Ambassador to Kabul has asked the government to immediately provide the required money for early completion of Pakistan-funded development projects in Afghanistan, which have already missed their completion deadlines.
Syed Abrar Hussain – in a letter dated April 11, 2014 to Planning and Development Secretary Hasan Nawaz Tarar – said that Pakistan has played an active role in Afghanistan’s development and reconstruction through various projects in health, education and infrastructure.
However, he lamented that some projects have remained incomplete mainly for want of funds. “It is against the spirit of our development assistance to Afghanistan to keep a project incomplete and pending for years and years,” he added.
Hussain noted that Afghanistan is passing through a democratic transition and a new government would be installed in a couple of months.
“It will be immense help if we may complete the projects within next few months and our prime minister may visit [Afghanistan] to inaugurate them jointly with the new Afghan president,” he said.
He also recalled that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, during his recent visit to Jalalabad and Mazzar-e-Sharif, also promised an early completion of these projects.
These projects include Torkham-Jalalabad Additional Carriageway, Rehman Baba School Hostel, Jinnah Hospital, Amanullah Laghari Hospital, Nishtar Kidney Centre and the continuing project of scholarships to Afghan students.
These projects – started by the government of Pakistan after 2001 under the executive/financial jurisdiction of Planning Commission of Pakistan – have been facing immense delay due to non-availability of funds since their start but work on them has stopped since August 2013 due bureaucratic lethargy.
“In my meetings with various Afghan leaders since my arrival here last month, I have been asked time and again to pursue these projects,” said the ambassador, and adding that all the concerned must be asked to facilitate completion of these projects on a priority basis.
Here it must be noted that in a letter to Pakistani ambassador, Governor of Afghanistan’s Logar Province Niaz Muhammad Amiree has also requested to complete work on a hospital project.
“We desperately need this area for proper delivery of health services while the construction work is stopped and we request you to stress on the implementers of project to complete the remaining work,” the governor stated.
In the past, the construction work on Naukh Logar Hospital had remained uneven due to financial hick-ups. But since August 2013, the project has faced severe funds blockage and is stopped after 83% completion.
According to sources, work on Torkham-Jalalabad Road has been stopped after 60% completion; while Jinnah Hospital in Kabul has not received any fund since August, 2013.
Rahman Baba Hostel Building in Kabul – 97% construction is complete – has also been not supplied any fund since August 2013.
Sources said the Pakistani Embassy has time and again asked the government to provide funds to complete the projects at the earliest possible time, fearing after withdrawal of NATO forces, the security situation in Afghanistan can also become less conducive for foreign construction workers.
Commenting on the issue, spokesperson for the Planning Commission told The Express Tribune that the commission had not stopped the funds for these projects.
“The issue is not of releasing funds, but we want to review the progress by the construction companies and for which a mechanism has been developed. Hopefully, the issue will be resolved within days,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2014.