Pakistan puts transit conditions on Indian aid to Afghanistan

Pakistan has sent a list of conditions to India before allowing Indian aid to reach Afghanistan. The new terms come days after Pakistan officially announced allowing “transportation of 50,000 MTs of wheat and life-saving medicines through Wagah as humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan”.

Officials on both sides are engaged to resolve this new impasse of humanitarian aid for Afghanistan. Sources have told India Today that Islamabad has sent a set of conditions, two of which are of most concern.

Read: World Bank mulls sending humanitarian aid to Afghanistan

One, Pakistan insists that the supplies will have to be transported by Pakistani trucks. The Indian side has proposed that if not Indian, then at least Afghan trucks can carry the material across to Afghanistan. Afghan trucks have been plying these roads for transportation of goods and materials in the past as well. But, the Pakistani side for now is insisting on Pakistani trucks.

Secondly, Pakistan wants to levy shipment charges on aid being sent to Afghanistan. India is insisting that there should be no additional cost to supplies being sent as humanitarian aid.

Talks are underway to come to an understanding so that aid reaches the Afghan people through United Nations agencies at the earliest. While loading and unloading at Wagah could create logistical hassles, India still is open to Afghan trucks taking the material forward to their home country.

Read: Working on modalities with Pak to send aid to Afghanistan via its territory, says MEA

On November 24, Pakistan foreign office had stated, “As a goodwill gesture towards the brotherly Afghan people, the Government of Pakistan has decided to allow the transportation of 50,000 Metric Tonnes of wheat and life-saving medicines from India to Afghanistan via Wagah Border on an exceptional basis for humanitarian purposes.”

“The decision of the Government of Pakistan to this effect was formally conveyed to the Charge d’ Affaires of India at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today.”

External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, during his weekly briefing on Friday, had said that there was no deadline for the aid to reach Afghanistan but with winters approaching, India was looking to send help as early as possible.

Bagchi said, “There is no deadline for such things but all the regional countries were on the same page on the humanitarian situation and their determination to see that assistance is provided. They called for unhindered and unimpeded access for goods and aid workers.”

“They did not have a deadline in mind but with winters approaching, there are disturbing reports coming in of the dire humanitarian situation. Hope this joint call by security heads of the region would spur movement on the ground,” he said.

India had proposed to send aid to Afghanistan on October 7 and Pakistan accepted it on November 24.

Source – India Today