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India seen consolidating its role in Afghanistan

AT News

KABUL: India’s donation of 20,000 metric tons of wheat to Afghanistan is a demonstration of India’s intention to strengthen its foothold and re-consolidate its soft power in Afghanistan by providing critical aid through Iran.

Afghanistan is set to receive over 20,000 metric tons of wheat through Iran’s Chabahar port into Herat region. A WFP spokesman said the aid is critically important to stem the tide of hunger threatening the lives of millions. World Food Program claims more than 19 million people are suffering from acute food insecurity in Afghanistan, according to Nikkei Asia, a Japanese publication.

The food aid is seen as a major step in strengthening India’s position as a critical donor of aid to Afghanistan and represents a geopolitical shift in New Delhi’s intention to forge positive relations with the Taliban despite not formally recognizing their government.

The issue also highlights a longstanding geopolitical rivalry. India has bypassed Pakistan and is using Iran’s Chabahar Port to transport wheat to Afghanistan. India had initially proposed to transport 50,000 tons of wheat through Pakistan. Pakistan gave its consent in November 2021. But Despite India’s plea, Pakistan refused to extend the deadline, limiting deliveries to 40,000 tons.

Using the port of Chabahar has significant advantages over transporting wheat through Pakistan, avoiding the difficult relationship of its nuclear-armed neighbors and allowing India to support Afghans more effectively.

India restored its diplomatic presence in Kabul by deploying a technical team in mid-2022. Experts say Afghanistan is too important for India to leave.

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