Pakistan puts conditions on Indian aid to Kabul
A worker helps load a wheelbarrow during a World Food Programme food distribution on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, on November 6, 2021. (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)
PAKISTAN has set for India a list of conditions before allowing it to reach aid to Afghanistan which is facing a number of crises after the Taliban stormed back to power last August.
The new terms surface days after Islamabad officially announced allowing “transportation of 50,000 MTs of wheat and life-saving medicines through Wagah as humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan”, India Today reported.
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Pakistan wants its trucks to carry the aid material
India Today cited informed sources to say that two of Islamabad’s conditions are of utmost concern and they are – the supplies will have to be transported by Pakistani trucks and Pakistan wants to levy shipment charges on aid being sent to Afghanistan.
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India has proposed that if not Indian, at least Afghan trucks can carry the aid into Pakistan. Afghan trucks have been used for transportation of goods and materials on these roads in the past as well. Islamabad, however, is insisting on using its trucks, the report added.
On the question of levying shipment charges, New Delhi has said that there should be no additional cost to supplies that are being sent as humanitarian aid.
Talks are underway between the two neighbours, whose relationship is not smooth, to arrive at an understanding on the matter so that the aid fast reaches the people of Afghanistan through United Nations agencies, the report added.
On November 24, the Pakistani foreign office said Islamabad decided to allow the transportation of 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat and life-saving medicines from India to Afghanistan as a goodwill gesture towards the people of Afghanistan. It said the transportation will be allowed via Wagah border on “an exceptional basis”.
“The decision of the Government of Pakistan to this effect was formally conveyed to the Charge d’ Affaires of India at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today,” it said.
The Indian external affairs ministry said last week that there is no deadline for the aid to reach Afghanistan but India was looking to complete the task as early as possible as winter is setting in.
“There is no deadline for such things but all the regional countries were on the same page on the humanitarian situation and their determination to see that assistance is provided. They called for unhindered and unimpeded access for goods and aid workers,” ministry spokesperson Arindam Baghchi said during his weekly briefing on Friday (26).
“They did not have a deadline in mind but with winters approaching, there are disturbing reports coming in of the dire humanitarian situation. Hope this joint call by security heads of the region would spur movement on the ground,” he added.
India had proposed to send aid to Kabul on October 7 and Pakistan accepted it on November 24.