Pakistan Rejects New Delhi's Offer of Using Indian Trucks to Send Humanitarian Aid to Afghanistan
New Delhi said that it offered some 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat and life-saving medicines in humanitarian relief to Afghanistan on 7 October. The Taliban* formally confirmed New Delhi’s aid offer after a meeting between Indian officials and Taliban delegates on the sidelines of the “Moscow Format” talks on 20 October.
Pakistan and India have locked horns over the “modalities” of transporting humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.
Islamabad has voiced its reservations to New Delhi over the use of Afghan or Indian trucks to transport nearly 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat and pledged medical supplies to the Central Asian nation.
According to a report in Express Tribune, Pakistani officials have conveyed to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad that they would allow only Pakistani trucks, operated under the aegis of the United Nations (UN), to carry the Indian supplies to Afghanistan.
Further, Pakistan has also proposed that the shipment charges for the transportation of Afghanistan-bound supplies must be borne by the Indian government.
Another condition put forth by Pakistan is that the transportation of the entire 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat must be completed in 30 days once the first truck is dispatched from the India border.
Pakistan has said that the wheat and other supplies must be loaded onto the trucks at the Wagah Border in India’s Punjab state.
According to Islamabad's estimates, nearly 1,200 trucks would be needed to transport the Indian wheat.
India has rejected these demands.
However, Pakistani officials have reportedly said that both the neighbours should be able to “work out” the modalities of channelling the Afghanistan-bound aid through Pakistan by this week.
“We believe that humanitarian assistance [to Afghanistan] should not be subject to conditionalities”, Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Friday, during a weekly briefing in response to a question on Islamabad agreeing to New Delhi’s request to transit its aid to Afghanistan through its territory.
The Pakistani Foreign Office conveyed to the Indian Charge D'affaires (CdA) on 24 November that Islamabad has agreed to New Delhi’s transit demand as a gesture of goodwill towards the “brotherly” Afghan people.
Islamabad also said that it was accepting New Delhi’s request “on an exceptional basis” for humanitarian purposes.
The Pakistani government formally agreed to India’s request on 22 November during the maiden meeting of the newly-created Afghanistan Inter-Ministerial Coordination Cell (AICC), a government agency tasked with coordinating humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.
The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan and attended by National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, among other officials.
The Pakistani government, the Taliban, as well as international donor agencies, such as the United Nations-backed World Food Programme (WFP), have warned of a looming humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan unless global donors step in with relief supplies and aid.
24 November 2021, 02:00 GMT
The Taliban has partly blamed the US for the ongoing humanitarian crisis
in the country, which includes shortages of food and other essential supplies, on the Biden administration’s decision to freeze nearly $9 billion of Afghanistan’s federal assets in US-based financial institutions.
The Taliban’s calls to unfreeze the federal assets have been partly backed by major regional actors such as China and Russia.
*The Taliban is under UN sanctions for terrorist activities.