Updated: December 12, 2021 1:19:34 am
For the first time since Kabul fell to the Taliban last August, India has sent humanitarian aid to Afghanistan: a 1.6-tonne consignment of emergency life-saving medicines for a children’s hospital.
These supplies were sent on a return flight that had brought 10 Indians and 94 Afghans to Delhi from Kabul Friday.
This comes even as India and Pakistan are working out the modalities for sending 50,000 metric tons of wheat to Afghanistan by road through Pakistan.
The Ministry of External Affairs said Saturday the medicines will be handed over to the representatives of the “World Health Organisation (WHO) in Kabul and will be administered at the Indira Gandhi Children Hospital, Kabul.”
The special flight from Kabul to New Delhi, chartered by the Indian government, had arrived at IGI airport Friday with 10
Indians and 94 Afghans, including members of the Afghan minority community. The minority community members carried with them two Swaroops of Guru Granth Sahib and some ancient Hindu manuscripts.
So far, under what is called the “Operation Devi Shakti”, a total of 669 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan: 448 Indians and 206 Afghans, which includes members of the Afghan Hindu/Sikh minority community.
Two months after India sent a request to Pakistan for sending foodgrains to Afghanistan via the land route, Islamabad had told New Delhi on December 3 that it will allow “Afghan trucks” for transport of wheat and life-saving medicines.
But Indian officials said time was running out since Delhi did not want to wait for the medicines to be sent through these trucks — as and when it would happen.
For the record, Delhi has said that there cannot be pre-conditions attached to humanitarian assistance.
Officials said the task of moving 50,000 metric tons of wheat to Afghanistan would require 5,000 trucks via Pakistan. The logistics suggest that Indian trucks would require the wheat to be unloaded and loaded again into Afghan trucks at the Zero Point on the Wagah-Attari border.
Last month, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had told the visiting Taliban delegation in Islamabad that it would “favourably consider” the request by “Afghan brothers” for transportation of wheat offered by India through Pakistan “on exceptional basis” for “humanitarian purposes and as per modalities to be worked out.”
This was conveyed by Imran Khan to Taliban Foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, who was accompanied by Taliban’s Finance and Commerce & Industry ministers and senior members of the delegation.
Last year, too, India had assisted Afghanistan with 75,000 metric tonnes of wheat, but that was under the previous Ashraf Ghani regime.
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