Afghanistan welcomed on Saturday Islamabad's decision to allow the use of Afghan trucks for transporting Indian wheat to the war-torn country after crossing into Pakistan via Wagah border in Punjab and travelling to Torkham in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which borders the Afghan province of Nangarhar.
The decision was announced by the Foreign Office on Friday and was taken to further facilitate Pakistan’s decision to allow the transport of 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat and lifesaving medicines from India to Afghanistan on an exceptional basis for humanitarian purposes.
Pakistan's Ambassador to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmad Khan informed Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi of the decision during a meeting with him on Saturday.
Later, Afghan foreign ministry spokesperson Abdul Qahar Balkhi tweeted that the meeting focused on enhancing "trade and facilitating [the transport] of Indian-assisted wheat to ... Afghanistan". He said Muttaqi had thanked Pakistan for allowing the use of Afghan-owned vehicles for transporting the wheat.
Earlier in October this year, an Indian delegation had met leaders from the Taliban government in Afghanistan on the sidelines of Moscow-format consultations in Russia and asked them to request Islamabad to allow the passage of Indian wheat to Afghanistan through the land route in Pakistan.
Muttaqqi had then raised the issue during his visit to Islamabad in November and Prime Minister Imran Khan had assured him that Islamabad would "favourably" consider the request.
Sources in Kabul told Dawn.com that during the Afghan foreign minister's visit, Pakistan had conveyed to him its formal decision to allow the transportation of the Indian wheat through Wagah border as per modalities to be agreed in coordination with the UN's World Food Programme (WFP).
The decision was shared with the Indian side. Evidently, Pakistan’s decision regarding modalities excluded the possibility of the transportation of wheat through Indian trucks, according to the sources.
However, a formal announcement was only made earlier this month, after Prime Minister Imran accepted the request for wheat transportation in consultation with the federal cabinet.
According to a statement by the Foreign Office in Islamabad, the decision was conveyed to the Indian charge d’ affaires on Friday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Indian government was also urged to proceed quickly towards taking necessary steps for expeditiously undertaking the delivery of the humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, according to the statement.
“This demonstrates the commitment and seriousness of the Government of Pakistan to facilitate the proposed humanitarian assistance,” the statement further said.