KABUL: An aircraft packed with 60 tons of Afghan plants with medicinal uses marked the opening of the first air cargo corridor between Afghanistan and India on Monday.
The cargo, worth about $5 million, was the first in what officials from the two countries hope among many flights allowing Afghan and Indian companies to bypass Pakistan, which limits the shipment of goods by land between India and Afghanistan due to tense ties with Delhi.
Pakistan wants peaceful, stable and sovereign Afghanistan: Aizaz Chaudhry
“Our aim is to change Afghanistan to an exporter country,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said at a ceremony marking the inaugural flight. Afghanistan depends on Pakistan’s port of Karachi for its foreign trade. It is allowed to send a limited amount of goods overland through Pakistan into India, but imports from India are not allowed along this route.
The cargo service aims to improve landlocked Afghanistan's links to markets abroad and boost the growth prospects of its agricultural and carpet industries while it battles a deadly Taliban insurgency, Indian officials have said.
"We will continue to assist you in various ways as this corridor expands and grows into a network of cargo flights as per demand of the market," India's ambassador to Afghanistan, Manpreet Vohra, told Ghani.
"There are bound to be some teething problems in any major initiatives such as this but my embassy and my government is committed to working together with your team to resolve all issues that may pop up from time to time."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also tweeted about the air cargo corridor between two countries.
Happy to welcome the first Air Freight Corridor flight from Kabul. pic.twitter.com/9mVobkpopv— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 19, 2017
Direct connectivity between India and Afghanistan will usher prosperity. I thank President @ashrafghani for the initiative.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 19, 2017
Border crossings are often closed as Afghan and Pakistani forces clash over the disputed border, and Afghan farmers have complained of fruit and other produce rotting without other options for shipping.
Army brass rebuffs Kabul’s ‘unwarranted accusations’
Next week, a second flight to India is scheduled to depart from the southern city of Kandahar, carrying 40 tons of dried fruit.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2017.
Like Business on Facebook, follow @TribuneBiz on Twitter to stay informed and join in the conversation.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ