The federal cabinet on Tuesday allowed India to use Pakistan’s land route to send wheat aid to Afghanistan, where millions of people face hunger as a cold winter hits.
Islamabad will also send aid, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement, which includes 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat, which matches the level sent by India.
“We have approved the passage of this 50,000 tonnes of wheat that India wants to send to Afghanistan,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told a press conference after the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“We feel that the people of Afghanistan should be helped in any way they can on humanitarian grounds,” he said.
New Delhi has not responded to the announcement.
Pakistan has been denying India commercial or other transport links to Afghanistan for years.
In its statement, the PMO said Islamabad would send humanitarian aid worth 5 billion rupees ($28.65 million) to Kabul and this would include food items including 50,000 metric tons of wheat, emergency medical supplies, winter shelter and other supplies.
It also said that Pakistan would facilitate the return of Afghan patients sent to India for medical treatment.
The combination of conflict, drought and COVID-19 in Afghanistan under Taliban rule has left millions hunger or starvation,
The World Food Program (WFP), a UN body, has said that food prices have risen since the second drought in four years, in which 40 per cent of the wheat crop was destroyed.
It said Afghanistan is short of 2.5 million tonnes of wheat and enough to feed only 5 percent of its population.