By Victoria Ojeme
THE Indian humanitarian aid en route to Afghanistan has been reportedly smuggled and hoarded by Pakistan.
Vanguard reports that the Indian wheat consignments, however, took a “return journey” after reaching Afghanistan.
According to a statement signed by Khaama P on May 31, the Taliban security officials in Helmand province prevented 50 wheat-laden trucks from unlawfully crossing the border to Pakistan.
On May 30, wheat-laden trucks were captured on the Herat-Kandahar highway, according to Hafiz Rashid Helmandi, the Taliban’s Director of Information and Culture for Helmand province. The vehicles were loaded in the company area of Helmand province’s Washir district to be taken to Pakistan.
Recall that India had send a team to Kabul to oversee the delivery operations of India’s humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and held discussions with the Taliban over the aid provided by New Delh.
This is, however, the first such visit by the Indian government to Kabul since the Taliban’s takeover.
India’s development and humanitarian assistance have received widespread appreciation across the entire spectrum of Afghan society.
In this connection, however, the Indian team will meet the senior members of the Taliban, and hold discussions on humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.
India had reportedly sought Afghan consent to send more aid but this time via the Iranian Chabahar port after Afghan media reported that wheat en route to Afghanistan was diverted and hoarded in Pakistan.
India allegedly suggested sending more consignments via Mumbai, Kandla, or Mundra ports on the west coast to Chabahar and taking the Iranian land route, reaching Herat.
This would avoid the delays on the Punjab border, with trucks lining up and waiting to be off-loaded, to be transported further through Pakistan.
As per reports, the Taliban also agreed that the change of the route for the consignment was needed.
Earlier, India had announced that it will send 50,000 metric tonnes (MT) of wheat to Afghanistan overland through Pakistan.
The first consignment of humanitarian aid of 2,500 tonnes of wheat from India reached Afghanistan’s Jalalabad through Pakistan on February 26.
The second convoy of India’s humanitarian assistance carrying 2,000 MTs of wheat left Attari, Amritsar on March 3 for Jalalabad, Afghanistan, the MEA had said.
Moreover, India sent the third consignment of 2,000 metric tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan in 40 trucks via the Attari-Wagah border on March 8.
The fourth consignment of 2,000 metric tonnes of wheat was dispatched for Afghanistan via the Attari-Wagah border on March 15.
The Government of Pakistan in November 2021 had approved, as a special gesture to the Afghan people, the transportation of 50,000 MTs of wheat and life-saving medicines as humanitarian assistance from India to Afghanistan via the Wagah border on an exceptional basis for humanitarian purposes, as per a press release by Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The time period granted for transportation of humanitarian assistance expired on 21 March 2022.
The Government of India requested for extension in the time period to complete the transportation process after which India was granted two months extension for the transportation of 50,000 Metric Tonnes (MTs) of wheat and life-saving medicines as humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.