Undeterred by Pakistan’s concerted attempt to block road access to Afghanistan, New Delhi and Kabul will operationalise their first air-freight corridor in the next few days, and it could be as early as Sunday.
The flight to be operated by Ariana Afghan Airlines — Afghanistan’s national carrier — will carry commodities from Kabul to Delhi and then return with Indian goods to Kabul. Initially, the plane will operate once or twice in a month, depending on the demand and supply needs.
The Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson Gopal Baglay said, “The first flight (under the dedicated India-Afghan air freight corridor) is likely to operate in next couple of days and will carry Indian goods to Afghanistan and their products to India.” The idea was discussed between the two countries during Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s visit last year.
The corridor is aimed at providing the private sector in Afghanistan with a platform to increase their exports to India. The project was also envisaged to enable traders to export Afghan products to the vast Indian market by air with minimum costs while circumventing the obstacles faced in the land route, which was denied by Pakistan.
The development assumes significance since Pakistan does not allow use of its land for trade between Afghanistan and India.