The federal cabinet on Tuesday granted permission to India to use Pakistan’s land route to ship wheat aid to Afghanistan where millions of people face hunger as a harsh winter set in.
Islamabad will also send aid, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement, including 50,000 metric tons of wheat, matching the level sent by India.
“We have approved to give passage to this 50,000 tons of wheat that India wants to send to Afghanistan,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told a news conference after the cabinet met with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair.
“We think the people in Afghanistan should be helped in any way on humanitarian grounds,” he said.
New Delhi has not responded to the announcement.
Pakistan has for years denied India commercial or other transport links to Afghanistan.
The PMO in its statement said Islamabad would send humanitarian assistance to Kabul worth Rs5 billion ($28.65 million) and comprising food commodities, including 50,000 metric tons of wheat, emergency medical supplies, winter shelters, and other supplies.
It also said Pakistan would facilitate the return of Afghan patients sent to India for medical treatment.
A combination of conflict, drought, and Covid-19 have left millions in Afghanistan, under Taliban rule, facing hunger or starvation.
Food prices have spiked since the second drought in four years ruined some 40 percent of the wheat crop, the World Food Programme (WFP), a UN body has said.
It said Afghanistan faces a shortfall of 2.5 million tons of wheat and that only 5pc of its population has enough to eat.