India ships first consignment of wheat through Chabahar port
The Dollar Business Bureau
India on Sunday sent its first shipment of wheat to Afghanistan via the Iranian port of Chabahar, bypassing Pakistan. This is seen as a ‘landmark’ step to operationalise an alternate transit route.
The consignment was flagged off from the port of Kandla in Gujarat with Union Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Afghanistan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani joined the ceremony via video conferencing.
“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,” Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
In June this year, India and Afghanistan had started a direct air freight corridor to enhance trade between the two countries as Pakistan has been declining access access through its land.
“I am extremely delighted that today we have joined on a momentous occasion for the people of our three countries and the region,” Swaraj said, while terming it a vital move in realising the shared goals to create ‘new routes’ of prosperity and peace.
From Chabahar port, the consignment will reach Afghanistan via land route.
The External Affairs Minister also restated India’s commitment to provide support for the capacity building, socio-economic development and reconstruction of Afghanistan, including support under the New Development Partnership framework announced in September.
The Chabahar port would open up new prospects for transit to and from Afghanistan and boost commerce and trade between the three nations (India, Iran and Afghanistan) as well as the wider region.
The two ministers welcomed the fact that this is the first consignment that would be entering Afghanistan via the port of Chabahar after an agreement signed between the three countries on Establishment of International Transport and Transit Corridor (Chabahar Agreement), during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Tehran in May last year, the statement said.
Six more shipments of wheat will be sent to Afghanistan through Chabahar in the coming few months, it added.