India, Pakistan at odds over Afghan aid transit modalities

New Delhi: Pakistan has linked its decision to allow India to transport 50,000 tonnes of wheat and medicines as humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to the condition that the relief materials be moved by Pakistani trucks, media reports said.

Officials of the two sides are engaged in discussions to find a solution to the impasse, especially in view of the looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

The Indian side is keen on using its own trucks as it wants to ensure that the relief materials directly reach the Afghan people without being diverted in any manner. The Indian side also envisages that the aid will be distributed only through the UN, the people said.

India proposed shipping wheat and life-saving medicines to the people of Afghanistan via Pakistani soil on October 7 and received a response from the Pakistan government only on November 24.

Sources said Pakistan had attached several conditions to the shipment of the relief materials, besides the use of Pakistani trucks, but declined to go into details.

It is understood that the Pakistani side is also seeking shipment charges from India for the use of its trucks.

The Indian side has repeatedly said in recent weeks that there should be unimpeded and unhindered access to Afghanistan for relief supplies and that the United Nations should play a central role in humanitarian efforts.

“We are working on the modalities with the Pakistan side. We believe that humanitarian assistance should not be subject to conditionalities,” External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.

Pakistan has for long opposed two-way trade between India and Afghanistan via the Wagah land border crossing. It allowed the former Afghan government to export goods to India via the crossing but barred any transportation of Indian goods to the Afghan side.

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