Bypassing Pakistani hurdle, India on Sunday shipped its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan via Iran’s Chabahar Port where it’s been investing heavily for the past few years.
The "gift from India to Afghan brethren" was sent from Gujarat’s Kandla seaport which shall reach Afghanistan through land routes from the strategic Iranian port.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj flagged off the first shipment of wheat from India. Leaders from Iran and Afghanistan also joined her in the ceremony.
“I believe that this is the starting point of our journey to realize the full spectrum of connectivity from culture to commerce, from traditions to technology, from investments to Information Technology, from services to strategy and from people to politics,” Swaraj said after flagging off the wheat consignment.
Swaraj also reiterated India’s continued commitment to support reconstruction, capacity building and socio-economic development of Afghanistan, including under the framework of the New Development Partnership announced last month.
“The wheat that is leaving the Indian shores today, is a gift from the people of India to our Afghan brethren. It is testament to the continued commitment of the government and the people of India to support our Afghan brethren in building a normal, peaceful, prosperous, secure and bright future for themselves,” Swaraj said.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) termed the shipment as a “landmark” moment and said the Chabahar port will be an alternate to reliable and robust connectivity for Afghanistan.
“The shipment of wheat is a landmark moment as it will pave the way for operationalisation of the Chabahar port as an alternate, reliable and robust connectivity for Afghanistan,” MEA said in a statement.
In June, India and Afghanistan had launched an air freight corridor between the two countries to boost trade as Pakistan has been refusing land transit access through its territory.
The external affairs minister also renewed commitment to work closely with regional and international partners to bring peace, security, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan.
The Chabahar port is expected to open up new opportunities for trade and transit from and to Afghanistan and enhance trade and commerce between the three countries and the wider region.
It said six more wheat shipments will be sent to Afghanistan over the next few months.
India and Iran have already expressed commitment for early completion of the work on the Chabahar port project.
The Chabahar port, located in the Sistan-Balochistan province on the energy-rich Persian Gulf-nations southern coast, lies outside the Persian Gulf and can be easily accessed from India’s western coast, bypassing Pakistan.
(With PTI inputs)