Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:30 pm on 24 October 2001.

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Photo of Baroness Amos Baroness Amos Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) 4:30, 24 October 2001

My Lords, first, let me thank the noble Lord, Lord Sandberg, for his clarification. It is true that Pakistan is suspended from the councils of the Commonwealth, but the transition to democracy is happening. Provincial and local elections took place earlier this year and a commitment has been made for national elections by October 2002.

On the subject of debt, substantial progress has been made on economic reform. Pakistan completed a nine-month standby arrangement for the IMF earlier this month, which is the first time in her history that this has been done. The UK is ready to provide substantial economic assistance, and we have made that clear. It will enable Pakistan to bring about improvements in social services delivery. That will amount to £15 million in this financial year and in the order of £45 million for each of the following two years. We agree that debt relief is important. We are not a major creditor and we have written off some £20 million of debt which was previously owed to the Commonwealth Development Corporation and transferred to the department earlier this year.