India to send wheat to Afghanistan in coming weeks: MEA

New Delhi: India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said that wheat will be sent to Afghanistan in the “coming weeks” after vaccines were supplied on the first day of the New Year 2022.

The MEA in a statement said, “In coming weeks, we would be undertaking the supply of wheat and the remaining medical assistance” and “in this regard, we are in touch with UN agencies and others for finalizing the modalities for transportation.”

India has committed to providing 50,000 MT of wheat, essential lifesaving medicines and COVID vaccines to the Afghan people. One of the proposals to send the supplies has been via overland Pakistan. While Islamabad has publicly stated it will allow the movement of supplies, no transfer has started even as New Delhi and Islamabad continue to discuss the modalities of transfer.

Meanwhile, since the Taliban’s takeover in August of last year, India has sent humanitarian support to Afghanistan via Iran’s Mahan air as commercial cargo. New Delhi sent second batch of 500,000 doses of COVID vaccine (COVAXIN) to Afghanistan which has been handed over to Indira Gandhi Hospital, Kabul. Another batch of additional 500,000 doses would be supplied in the coming weeks.

The MEA in a release said, “Government of India has committed to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghan people consisting of food grains, one million doses of COVID Vaccine and essential life saving drugs.”

Last month, India sent 1.6 metric tons of medicines to Afghanistan via Kam airways, the first such consignment under the Taliban regime. The support comes even as India and Afghanistan’s Taliban govt has no formal ties but two times New Delhi has publicly accepted that it has held talks with the group–one in Doha and another in Moscow. Taliban has also accepted that it has had conversations with the Indian govt.

When the first supplies came, the Taliban had welcomed them. Abdul Qahar Balkhi, spokesperson of Taliban foreign ministry said, “We appreciate the arrival of 2 tons of Indian assisted medicine to Indira Gandhi Children Hospital in Kabul.” The same flight saw many Afghan Hindus and Sikhs coming to India while 85 Afghan nationals stuck in India reaching back to homeland.

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