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New Delhi: Pakistan has granted India permission to send 50,000 metric tonnes (MT) of wheat and lifesaving medicines to Afghanistan through the Wagah Border on an “exceptional basis”. This was officially communicated by the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad Wednesday.

“As a goodwill gesture towards the brotherly Afghan people, the government of Pakistan has decided to allow the transportation of 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat and lifesaving medicines from India to Afghanistan via Wagah Border on an exceptional basis for humanitarian purposes,” said a press statement issued by the spokesperson of Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Earlier this month, post the extended Troika Plus meeting hosted by Islamabad, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that he would allow India to use the land route through his country to send aid to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. 

On Wednesday, the decision was officially announced and communicated to India through diplomatic channels. 

“We think the people in Afghanistan should be helped in any way on humanitarian grounds,” Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said in a press conference Wednesday. 

New Delhi had sought Pakistan’s permission in early October to send humanitarian aid and assistance to Afghanistan, because sending shipments via Iran’s Chabahar Port did not work out due to the expense. 

The matter, however, took time as the Imran Khan government was analysing the request due to various sensitivities involved with such a move. Within Pakistan’s cabinet too, opinion was divided on whether or not to allow India to send the shipments, sources in the Pakistan government told ThePrint. 

Sources have also said that according to the note verbale that has been handed over by Pakistan to India, Islamabad will not allow Indian trucks to ply inside its territory, and modalities will be worked out on whether trucks from Pakistan will carry the shipments from Wagah till the Afghanistan border.

India yet to respond 

India is yet to officially respond to Pakistan’s decision, even as it is assessing whether to send the aid directly or with the help of international aid organisations such as the United Nations World Food Programmes (UNWFP) or the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), official sources told ThePrint. 

ThePrint had earlier reported that New Delhi is concerned about distribution of the aid and whether all sections of the Afghan population will get access to it. 

The matter was also discussed during the recent meeting of National Security Heads of Russia, Iran and five Central Asian countries, which was hosted by India. 

India had also explored ways to send aid to Kabul when US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Thomas West visited New Delhi on 16 November.

(Edited by Arun Prashanth)

Also read: Unpaid Afghan diplomats struggle to hold fort, ensure ‘business as usual’ at embassies


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