India ships out wheat to Afghanistan via Iran

India sent the first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through Chabahar port in Iran, a landmark moment in realising an alternative strategic transit route to land-locked Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan.

Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and her Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani flagged off the the first shipment via video-conference on Sunday. The cargo left Kandla for Chabahar and will then be transported to Afghanistan.India, Iran and Afghanistan have now operationalised a strategic transit route to give land-locked Afghanistan an alternative to Pakistan.

The MEA added in a statement, “The shipment of wheat is a landmark moment as it will pave the way for operationalisation of the Chabahar port as an alternative, reliable and robust connectivity for Afghanistan.“ This is an important day for Afghanistan and for regional connectivity initiatives, particularly as the world remains enamoured of China's grand OBOR project. Sunday's wheat shipment is also a logical conclusion to a process started soon after the Taliban was ousted from Kabul in 2001 and India lent its political and economic resources to help rebuild a shattered Afghanistan.

Even as early as 2002, Pakistan blocked India's efforts to send wheat to Afghanistan during a food-scarce year.

India donated 1 million tonnes of wheat to the World Food Program (the largest single donation in its history) in the form of high-energy fortified biscuits for WFP's school feeding programme, beginning a long assistance relationship with Afghanistan, despite hurdles by Pakistan.

In June, India and Afghanistan launched an air freight corridor between the two countries to boost trade as Pakistan continues to deny land transit access through its territory.

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