Shipment of Indian aid of 50,000 tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan to begin next week: Afghan envoy

New Delhi, Feb 2 (PTI): India’s humanitarian aid of 50,000 tonnes of wheat to Afghan people is likely to be transported to Afghanistan through Pakistani land routes from next week and the delivery is set to be completed in a month’s time, Afghan Ambassador Farid Mamundzay said on Wednesday. The Afghan envoy also welcomed India’s allocation of Rs 200 crore as development assistance for Afghanistan in its budget for 2022-23 and added that it has been forthcoming to support the Afghan people at a “difficult time”.

“There couldn’t be a better time than this for displaying the goodwill and generosity that India has always shown to the Afghan people,” he said. Mamundzay said the delivery of the wheat is expected to start between February 10 and 12. “India is going to deliver 50,000 tonnes of wheat in the next week or two, and the delivery will be completed in a month’s time,” Mamundzay told reporters on the sidelines of an event at the Afghan embassy.

India had sent a proposal to Pakistan on October 7 seeking the transit facility to send 50,000 tonnes of wheat to the people of Afghanistan via Pakistani soil and it received a positive response from Islamabad on November 24. Following the Pakistani response, both sides were in touch to finalise the modalities for the transportation of the shipments.

“We can expect the delivery to start between February 10 and 12,” the Afghan envoy said. He said Pakistan has given all the assurances required by the Indian side for transportation of the wheat. On India setting aside Rs 200 crore for developmental aid to Afghanistan, Mamundzay said: “This comes at a very crucial time when other countries have turned their back toward Afghanistan. India has been forthcoming to support the Afghan people at a difficult time.” “The assistance of Rs 200 crore for development is something we greatly appreciate. The Rs 100 crore for development of Chabahar port is yet another initiative that has been welcomed by the Afghan business community,” he added.

In a signal of its commitment to the Afghan people, India on Tuesday set aside an amount of Rs 200 crore as development assistance to Afghanistan besides allocating Rs 100 crore for the Chabahar port project. The Afghan envoy also complimented India’s decision to continue providing scholarships to Afghan students. “India continues to invest in our future. There has also been support in the humanitarian field in the form of six tonnes of medicines and 500,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines that were sent in the past few weeks,” he said.

Mamundzay said the people of Afghanistan were looking forward to India’s “timely intervention” in the areas where they require help. The Afghan envoy also said that the trade between the two countries increased significantly under the erstwhile government and that it could be doubled in a few years if trade routes are properly opened. “In the past nine months, trade has increased and there was no dip. The focus of the Taliban is on banking and the release of foreign reserves, they have an understanding of the significance of trade. We hope they will continue with that approach,” he said.

In the last couple of months, India delivered large quantities of life-saving medicines and other supplies as part of humanitarian aid to the war-torn country. India has been pitching for providing unimpeded humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to address the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the country. India has not recognised the new regime in Afghanistan and has been pitching for the formation of a truly inclusive government in Kabul besides insisting that Afghan soil must not be used for any terrorist activities against any country. India has been concerned over the recent developments in Afghanistan. It hosted a regional dialogue on Afghanistan on November 10 that was attended by NSAs of Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.