Pakistan allows India to send wheat as hunger grips Afghanistan

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Farmhands operate a thresher while harvesting a wheat field in the Panipat district of Haryana, India, on April 11, 2021. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Prashanth Vishwanathan

Pakistan will allow India to send 50,000 tons of wheat through its territory to neighboring Afghanistan, which is reeling under a severe hunger crisis as its economy has stalled since the Taliban took over in August, according to an Afghan government official.

Islamabad agreed to allow over land wheat shipments nearly a month after Kabul sought permission, Sulaiman Shah Zaheer, a spokesman of the Afghanistan Ministry of Commerce and Industries, said in a phone interview.

“The issue has now been resolved, and India can now send the wheat to Afghanistan via the Wagah border in Pakistan,” he said

The aid will be the first such consignment from New Delhi, which is yet to recognize the country’s new Taliban regime. Pakistan, Iran and U.A.E. are among the other nations that have provided Afghanistan with food and medical supplies. More than half of the country’s nearly 40 million people are likely to face acute food shortage and nine million are already on brink of starvation, according to a recent World Food Program report.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that his country would “favorably consider the request by Afghan brothers for transportation of wheat offered by India through Pakistan on exceptional basis,” in a statement after a Nov. 12 meeting with Afghanistan’s Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.

There was no immediate comment from Pakistan officials Monday.

Last month Pakistan had denied India’s request to send the wheat because of the fractious relationship between the two South Asian nations.

 

 

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