Indian wheat shipment for Kabul via Pak may start in Feb

by IANS |

New Delhi, Jan 29 (IANS) The shipment of Indian wheat for Afghanistan to be transported through Pakistan is expected to start in early February after both sides finally agreed on the modalities following months of discussions, a media report said on Saturday.

It will be rare when India transports goods using Pakistan's land route to Afghanistan as Islamabad would otherwise never permit two-way trade between New Delhi and Kabul, said The Express Tribune report.

But an exception has been made due to the precarious humanitarian situation in Afghanistan with Pakistan allowing one time permission to India to transport 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat through the Wagah border, the report said.

It took both the sides several weeks of discussions to agree on the modalities.

Initially, Pakistan wanted the transportation of humanitarian assistance goods to Kabul in its trucks under the banner of the UN.

But India made a counter proposal and wanted the food grain to be shipped to Afghanistan either in Indian or Afghan trucks, the report said.

The two sides then agreed that wheat would be carried by Afghan trucks and a list of Afghan contractors was shared with Pakistan, The Express Tribune further said.

Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar told a weekly news briefing on Friday that all arrangements were now put in place and Islamabad was waiting for the date of the first consignment.

Diplomatic sources told The Express Tribune that the shipment would start in early February.

As per the modalities, India has to transport the total amount of wheat within 30 days of the first consignment.

The two countries have decided to cooperate on Afghanistan despite their otherwise tense relationship, the report added.

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