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New Delhi: Pakistan has agreed to “favourably” consider the proposal for allowing the transportation of wheat from India to mitigate the dire humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, which resulted from the Taliban capturing power in the war-ravaged nation.
India had formally offered humanitarian aid to Afghanistan during a meeting of senior Indian diplomats and Taliban deputy prime minister Abdul Salam Hanafi on the sidelines of Moscow format consultations last month.
On Friday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan told the visiting Afghan Taliban delegation that it was willing to allow transit of Indian wheat on an “exceptional basis for humanitarian purposes”. The Taliban delegation was led by Amir Khan Muttaqi, acting foreign minister of the interim Afghan government, announced after the complete conquest of Afghanistan by the insurgent group.
The Prime Minister conveyed that in the current context Pakistan 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.
— Prime Minister’s Office, Pakistan (@PakPMO) November 12, 2021
Khan’s allowance for Indian humanitarian aid was framed as an acceptance of an Afghan request, rather than a response to any call from New Delhi. The Taliban delegation had met with officials from the United States, China and Russia who had attended the ‘Troika plus’ meeting hosted by Islamabad.
A day earlier, ministry of external affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had told reporters that India had been looking at various possibilities of sending aid to Afghanistan, “but there have been difficulties due to lack of unimpeded access”. As reported by Times of India, India had been looking to send at least 50,000 tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan.
The Delhi Declaration, a joint statement of national security advisors of eight countries, issued earlier this week, had also asserted that humanitarian assistance should be provided to Afghanistan in an “unimpeded, direct and assured manner”, with non-discriminate distribution of aid across Afghan society.
Pakistan had been also invited to the meeting of NSAs of regional players on Afghanistan by India. Rejecting the invitation, Pakistan’s national security advisor Moeed Yusuf had said that India did not have a role in Afghanistan. “A spoiler cannot try to become a peacemaker,” Yusuf told the media in Islamabad.
According to the United Nations, Afghanistan is possibly the worst humanitarian disaster ever, with 23 million people in need for food assistance. The UNDP had also assessed that 97% of the population was at risk of sinking below poverty levels.
Since the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, there has been increasing worry in the international community, especially in the west, that the economic collapse and looming humanitarian disaster would spur an exodus from Afghanistan. However, there has also been a concern in many world capitals that any supply of humanitarian aid should not be construed as an official recognition of the Taliban government, with emphasis that the UN should be in charge of distribution.