Afghanistan has received an inaugural consignment of wheat from India through Iran’s strategic port of Chabahar, opening a new trade and transit route for the landlocked nation that bypasses neighboring Pakistan, a report said.
The shipment of almost 15,000 tons of wheat dispatched from India’s western port of Kandla on October 29 reached the Iranian port of Chabahar on November 1. It was then loaded on trucks and taken by road to the Afghan province of Nimroz, which borders Iran, NewGram website reported on Saturday.
Speaking at a special ceremony to receive the historic consignment Saturday in the border town of Zaranj, India’s ambassador to Kabul, Manpreet Vohra, said the shipment has demonstrated the viability of the new route.
He added that India, Afghanistan, and Iran agreed to operationalize the Chabahar port only a year-and-a-half ago.
“The ease and the speed with which this project is already working is evident from the fact that as we are receiving the first trucks of wheat here in Zaranj, the second ship from Kandla has already docked in Chabahar,” Vohra announced.
He said there will be seven shipments between now and February and a total of 110,000 tons of wheat will go to Afghanistan through Chabahar. Vohra added the shipments are part of a promised 1.1 million tons of wheat as India’s “gift” to Afghanistan out of which 700,000 has already been sent to the country.
India is investing $500 million in Chabahar port to build new terminals, cargo berths and connecting roads, as well as rail lines.
“The logic of finding easy connectivity assured connectivity for Afghanistan is also because you have not had the benefit despite being a landlocked country of having easy access to international markets. We all know that a particular neighbor of yours to the east has often placed restrictions on your transit rights,” Vohra said.
The strategic sea route, officials say, will help improve trade and transit connectivity between Kabul and New Delhi.
It will also potentially give India access to Central Asian markets through Afghanistan because rival Pakistan does not allow Indian goods to be transported through its territory.
(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)