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India likely to start wheat aid to Kabul via Pakistan Tuesday, Afghan trucks to take 1st batch

About 30-40 Afghan trucks will be crossing over from Pakistan to India Monday night and will leave for Afghanistan after the loading of 10 MT of wheat is complete.

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New Delhi: India is likely to begin its much-awaited food aid to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan starting Tuesday, when about 10 MT of wheat will be transported by Afghan trucks through the Wagah-Attari border, ThePrint has learned.

This shipment is part of the original 50,000 MT of wheat that India had planned to send after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021. The remaining shipment will be sent in tranches, diplomatic sources told ThePrint.

According to the sources, the wheat will be distributed by the UN World Food Programme (WFP). The shipment will enter Afghanistan through the Torkham border crossing at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

The plan to send the shipment in tranches was taken as dispatching 50,000 MT of wheat in one go would have been a “logistical nightmare”, said another source.

Also read: India cuts development aid to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan by 43%, big jump for Bangladesh: Budget

Humanitarian aid to Afghanistan

With Afghanistan is facing an economic catastrophe and severe food shortages, India on 12 February had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the WFP in Rome to send the wheat shipment.

“I think it will be spread over a few days… It’s the space at the loading point and the time required. Things will be clear once a few vehicles are tried,” said a senior official in the Pakistan government.

According to another Pakistani government official, Islamabad has agreed to this “one-time allowance” for the Indian shipment to be sent to Afghanistan through its territory as a humanitarian gesture.

“Under the government’s decision, we will not charge any duty/ tax from the Afghan authorities on the collection of wheat from India at the Attari border,” reported Dawn, quoting a senior Pakistani customs official.

Also read: Modi govt gives breather to 80 Afghan cadets ‘stuck’ in India — a 1-yr English learning course

Allocation for Afghanistan cut

New Delhi has already supplied four batches of medical consignments to Afghanistan, consisting of essential life-saving medicines and vaccines. India will continue to help the crisis-hit country and fund its humanitarian aid requirements, but at much lower levels than it did before the Taliban came to power last year.

In Union Budget 2022-23, India slashed its development assistance to the war-torn country to Rs 200 crore, down 43 per cent from Rs 350 crore in 2021-22 (Budget estimates), when Kabul was under a democratic government. The plan to send the wheat consignment to Afghanistan was communicated to Pakistan in October 2021.

(Edited by Manoj Ramachandran)

Also read: Turkmenistan, Afghanistan push TAPI gas pipeline again but this is why India is being cautious


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