Pakistan confirms: Will allow wheat transit to Afghanistan | India News

Following intense speculation over the past several weeks on how Islamabad would respond to India’s proposal to deliver humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan on Monday announced his government will allow India to transport 50,000 MT of wheat to Afghanistan via the land route “as soon as modalities are finalised with the Indian side”.
TOI had first reported on October 19 that India wanted to send 50,000 MT of wheat to Afghanistan, where the impending winter threatens to exacerbate an acute food crisis, and was in touch with Pakistan over the issue. The announcement by PM Khan and his office followed a meeting of Pakistan’s Afghanistan inter-ministerial coordination cell that was chaired by the PM. At the meeting, Pakistan also announced its own humanitarian assistance package that included 50,000 tonnes of wheat and medical supplies.
“This is a welcome development. If India and Pakistan can find pragmatic ways to smoothen their interface on Afghanistan, it will be a step forward for both, for Afghanistan and for regional cooperation,” said TCA Raghavan, veteran diplomat and former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan.
Khan also announced that Pakistan will facilitate the return of Afghan patients who had gone to India for medical treatment and are stuck there.
While there was no immediate response by India to the development, sources said India will wait for an official communication. Pakistan’s announcement came a little over 6 weeks after India proposed delivery of wheat via the Attari-Wagah border.
If Pakistan does indeed allow land transport of wheat to Afghanistan, it will be quite a change from 2002 – when it had rejected the same proposal by India in similar circumstances even though the then Afghan President Hamid Karzai had repeatedly taken up the issue with Islamabad.
There had been little indication so far of India and Pakistan working together to deal with the emerging situation in Afghanistan. Pakistan NSA Moeed Yusuf had refused to participate in India’s Afghanistan conference earlier this month and, on Sunday, he was quoted by the Pakistan media as describing PM Narendra Modi as “most fascist leader” since Hitler.
Significantly, the Taliban had discussed the wheat proposal with Khan during the recent visit of foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi to Pakistan. PM Khan had said after the meeting that Pakistan will favourably consider the proposed delivery of Indian wheat. After India officially offered assistance to the Taliban in a meeting on the margins of the Moscow Format talks, Taliban’s ambassador-designate to the UN, Suhail Shaheen, had told TOI the government in Kabul was ready to accept aid from India and also to receive Indian diplomats, along with those from other countries, back in Kabul.

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