On Tuesday, i.e., 22 February 2022, India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla flagged off a convoy of 50 trucks carrying 2500 tonnes of wheat as humanitarian aid for Afghanistan at the India-Pakistan integrated checkpost (ICP). This was the first consignment out of about 1,000 truckloads which are scheduled to head for Jalalabad over the next few weeks.
The wheat is sent across Afghanistan to aid people to deal with the crisis caused by food shortage and an economic collapse after the Taliban takeover of Kabul.
The consignment had been originally offered to the Taliban leadership in October 2021, but was held up first due to objections from Pakistan and Punjab election.
As per Ministry of External Affairs, “The assistance was made in response to appeals made by the United Nations for humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan”.
Traders and truckers in Amritsar welcomed the trans-shipment with the hope that the opening for Afghan aid would lead to reopening of India and Pakistan trade, after being suspended for nearly three years. This closure has caused massive economic losses in the border towns.
“The wheat assistance will be delivered in multiple consignments and will be handed over to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) in Jalalabad, Afghanistan,” an MEA statement said World Food Program Country Director Bishaw Parajuli, who had helped complete the negotiations with India, and Afghan Ambassador Farid Mamundzay were also present at the ceremony.
The wheat shipment is packed in special bags stamped “Gift from the people of India to the people of Afghanistan”, marking an end to months of bureaucratic wrangles between New Delhi and Islamabad.