Pakistan and India find themselves in another conflict as both the neighbors seem unable to agree on a strategy regarding the shipment of Indian wheat to Afghanistan as humanitarian assistance through Pakistan.
Earlier last week, Islamabad announced the decision to allow New Delhi to transport 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat along with other humanitarian goods to Kabul via the Wagah border in a move Islamabad said was made on an “exceptional basis” taking into consideration the humanitarian crises in Afghanistan.
The modalities for the transportation of the assistance from India were communicated with the Indian government through its mission in Islamabad. According to modalities, Pakistan had suggested transportation of wheat on Pakistani trucks to be operated by the United Nations. The Pakistani trucks under the banner of the UN would load wheat at the Wagah crossing and then deliver it to Afghanistan.
The Indian government will be paying the shipment charges. India is required to complete the transportation within 30 days of the commencement of the first shipment. It is estimated that around 1,200 trucks would be required to transport 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat.
According to reports, India objected to the modalities proposed by Pakistan and insisted that no conditions should be imposed on humanitarian assistance.
India has proposed that the wheat should be transported via either Indian or Afghan trucks. However, Pakistan insisted that the shipment should be carried out via Pakistani trucks under the UN banner.
During a briefing on Thursday, Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi urged that Pakistan should not place any conditions on the shipment of humanitarian assistance.
He said, “This was about humanitarian access into Afghanistan for the delivery of the 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat and life-saving medicines we are supplying to the people of Afghanistan”.
He further added, “We are examining the response of the government of Pakistan. We are also working on the modalities with the Pakistan side. We believe that humanitarian assistance should not be subject to conditionalities”.
However, as per reports, Pakistani officials said that Islamabad did not attach any conditions and explained that modalities were there to ensure smooth shipment of Indian assistance.
An official from the Foreign Office shared that India seemed to be playing politics. He said, “If India is sincere in sending aid to Afghanistan, then it should not have any objections to our modalities”.
The official further added that India could have transported the humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan through Chabahar Port or even Karachi port.
Another official reportedly shared that despite differences both sides might find a common ground and a decision will be reached this week.
Pakistan allowing India to use the Wagah border to transport wheat to Afghanistan is an exception made from Pakistan as the country does not permit two-way trade between India and Afghanistan. It, however, only allows Afghanistan to export goods to India through the Wagah border.
Islamabad green signaled the shipment after the Taliban government also requested the country to facilitate humanitarian assistance.