Rare Pakistan, India collaboration on Afghanistan

40 trucks carrying wheat for Afghans cross Wagah today

Kamran Yousaf February 21, 2022
Pakistani Rangers (wearing black uniforms) and Indian Border Security Force (BSF) officers lower their national flags during parade on the Pakistan's 72nd Independence Day, at the Pakistan-India joint check-post at Wagah border, near Lahore. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE


The first shipment of the Indian wheat for Afghanistan via Pakistan will be dispatched from the Wagah border crossing today (Tuesday), a rare joint collaboration by the two nuclear-armed neighbours to help prevent the humanitarian catastrophe in the war-torn country.

But it took the two countries several weeks of negotiations to finally agree on the modalities for the shipment of wheat. The reason the two sides took long to reach an agreement was because Pakistan was opposed to allowing two-way trade between Afghanistan and India.

Afghanistan is permitted to use the Pakistani land route for transportation of goods to India but New Delhi cannot export through Pakistan to Afghanistan.

The exception was created because of the humanitarian crises unfolding in Afghanistan. In October last year, India announced 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat as humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan. It requested Pakistan to let the food grain pass through its border. The interim Afghan government also made a similar request to the government of Pakistan.

Also read: All clear for first Indian wheat shipment for Afghanistan on Feb 22

The government agreed to allow the Indian wheat shipment but the two sides took several weeks to agree on the modalities. Pakistan initially wanted the shipment of wheat through its trucks under the banner of the World Food Program (WFP) but India made a counter proposal, saying its lorries be allowed to carry the wheat. Nevertheless, the two neighbours reached a compromise when they agreed to allow the Afghan trucks for the shipment.

Official sources confirmed to The Express Tribune that the first consignment of 10,000 metric tonnes of wheat would be dispatched via the Wagah border crossing on Tuesday. The wheat would be handed over the WFP that would then distribute it among the people of Afghanistan. India recently signed an agreement with the UN agency for this purpose.

As per the agreement, India will have to complete the shipment within 30 days of the first consignment.

The Hindustan Times, however, reported that this might not be possible given the fact that only 40 trucks cross the Attar-Wagah crossing every day.

Also read: India-Pakistan trade remains in deep freeze

Afghanistan is facing a precarious humanitarian situation with nearly 23 million people in need of desperate help. Many countries, including Pakistan, Russia, China and some European countries were in favour of unfreezing the Afghan assets held in the United States.

But President Joe Biden recently in a controversial move decided to split the $7 billion Afghan funds between the victims of 9/11 attacks and for humanitarian assistance for the people of Afghanistan.
The move is being severely criticized by many as the Afghan Taliban condemned it while Pakistan questioned the US decision for setting aside the $3.5 billion for the victims of 9/11 attacks.

Pakistan insisted that the utilisation of Afghan funds must be the sovereign right of Afghanistan.

Many in the US are also criticizing the US decision saying the funds belong to the people of Afghanistan and they must not be given a collective punishment because the Taliban are now in power.


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