Why Pak isn’t Allowing Indian Wheat to Reach Hungry Afghanistan

The country has suffered from drought and an acute shortfall in grain production. Taliban, the new rulers, have issued appeals for food and other humanitarian aid.

New Delhi: Food shortage may not be unknown to Afghanistan but this year the situation is quite grim and has drawn a lot of attention from the outside world. The country has suffered from drought and an acute shortfall in grain production. Taliban, the new rulers, have issued appeals for food and other humanitarian aid.

The world has responded positively even though the Taliban have shown no inclination to act and function with responsibility to ensure respect for the rights of the people. Pledges for humanitarian aid have been made by leading nations. Some countries have succeeded in reaching their aid to Afghanistan, including two close friends of the Taliban, China and Turkey.

India announced 50,000 tonnes of wheat in humanitarian aid and requested Pakistan to allow it to use the country’s land route to deliver the grain in Kabul. Islamabad is however, sitting over the request deriving some perverted pleasure.

Pakistan, on its part, has gone to town to announce its ‘humanitarian aid’, boasting that it will be worth $5 billion.

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Pakistan itself is facing an acute shortage of wheat, forcing it to import the grain. It could have lifted wheat from next door neighbour India, which has a huge surplus this year. But it did not, and is spending a fortune by importing from far away countries. That is the level of Pakistani pique.

Pakistan is playing dirty politics in the matter of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. In no case does it want Indian aid to outshine its own meager efforts because that would show India in a better light than Pakistan. After the US forces threw out the last Taliban regime nearly 20 years ago, Pakistan discovered to its horror and discomfort that ordinary Afghans looked very favourably at India and hated Pakistanis for aiding and abetting terror activities inside their country.

Before the Taliban took over Kabul on August 15, Indian aid effort in Afghanistan was estimated to be about $5 billion — the same amount that a cash-strapped Pakistan claims to have provided to the war-torn nation in a matter of months! Pakistan could not compete with India in helping the development of Afghanistan but even its efforts to fan anti-India feelings by exploiting religious and cultural ties with the Afghan did not win it many friends within Afghanistan.

The inhuman attitude of Pakistan should have been noted by the UN which leads the appeal for rushing humanitarian aid to Afghanistan where the people, including children, face the prospect of hunger by the end of the year if sufficient aid is not received.

Pakistan cannot be expected to accede to Indian request for overland transportation of wheat and medicines to Afghanistan but the UN and world powers can make it see reason. But gentle pressure will not work on an obdurate Pakistan which finds itself with very few friends in the international community.

Pakistan obviously gets a kick by saying “no” to whatever India says. For the Islamic Republic it is a moment of triumph over a big neighbour with which it has proudly sworn eternal enmity.

Pakistan banned commercial flights of Indian planes over its territory some years ago. It continues to enforce the ban even now though towards October end, it briefly allowed civilian flights from Srinagar to Sharjah to use its airspace. This permission lasted no more than a week; the Indian flight was primarily meant to serve Kashmiris who work in the Gulf — the very Kashmiris for whom the Pakistan expresses “solidarity” by exporting terror to Kashmir and the rest of India.

India is now routing the Srinagar-Sharjah flight through Gujarat with a halt in Delhi, adding about an hour to the flying time. It may eventually meet the same fate as the Srinagar-Dubai flight in 2009 which evoked poor response because of its extra flying time.

For too long, Pakistan has been allowed to arbitrarily deny Indian commercial planes the right to fly over its territory simply to derive some sadistic pleasure. When its whims demand it, Pakistan also blocks the flight of Indian VIP flights from using its air space. But surprisingly, the two recent flights of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Italy and Scotland were allowed to fly over Pakistan.

It did not signify a change of heart by Pakistan, as subsequent events have demonstrated Pakistan’s paronia even in matters of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

Source
IANS

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