Aid to Afghanistan: India in talks with Pakistan to firm up ‘modalities’

India is in talks with Pakistan to firm up the “modalities” for sending humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan, an official said here on Friday.

At the weekly press briefing here, official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi said India took the initiative to send food and medicines in the first week of October and that Delhi does not want to place “conditionalities” while sending humanitarian assistance.

“India has always stood by the people of Afghanistan, be it [regarding] humanitarian support or development assistance. We received on Wednesday a response from the Government of Pakistan to our proposal made on October 7, 2021, for providing humanitarian assistance of 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat and lifesaving medicines that we want to send to the people of Afghanistan. We are examining the response of the Government of Pakistan. We are also working on the modalities with the Pakistan side,” said Mr. Bagchi.

The need for the transit facility was taken up on November 12 by a delegation led by Taliban’s Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in Islamabad. Following the meeting, the office of the Prime Minister of Pakistan said Islamabad would “favourably” consider the proposal.

Mr. Bagchi highlighted that the proposal to send wheat and medicines came from the Indian side in the first week of October hinting that Pakistan has taken several weeks to agree to the proposal. A senior official indicated that India expects Pakistan to speed up the process. The vast consignment of wheat and medicines is expected to be sent by hundreds of trucks that will crisscross Pakistan. The other possibility is sending them through the Iranian port of Chabahar which was ruled out because of practical difficulties on the Afghanistan-Iran border. .

India has not recognised the Taliban set up in Afghanistan till now and has been demanding “unimpeded humanitarian access” and “non-discriminatory distribution” of support among the people who are facing an acute shortage of food and medicines. In a speech in the U.N. on the situation, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had asked for “unrestricted” access to the population for supplying assistance.

Friday’s announcement indicated the complexity of India-Pak ties as it came hours after the Ministry of External Affairs summoned a senior diplomat of the Pakistan High Commission and reiterated India’s demand for ensuring justice for the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks of 2008.

“It is a matter of deep anguish that even after 13 years of this heinous terror attack, the families of 166 victims from 15 countries still await closure, with Pakistan showing little sincerity in bringing the perpetrators to justice. The Government of India will continue to make every effort to seek justice for the families of the victims and the martyrs,” said the Ministry after delivering a diplomatic note of protest to the senior Pakistani diplomat.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 12:13:49 PM |

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