Bypassing Pakistan, India initiates Afghanistan trade route via Iran

  • Bypassing Pakistan, India initiates Afghanistan trade route via Iran

Bypassing Pakistan, India initiates Afghanistan trade route via Iran

She said the people of India, Afghanistan and Iran have been connected for centuries.

Six more wheat shipments will be sent to Afghanistan over the next few months.

On Sunday, New Delhi reclaimed its geographical and strategic legacy in part, exporting a consignment of wheat to land-locked Afghanistan through the Iranian port that it jointly developed with Teheran.

Pakistan has banned India from transporting goods through its territory to Afghanistan.

The use of Chabahar port is seen as a major boost to India's efforts to connect with Central Asia and Russian Federation, and it could facilitate Indian imports of iron ore, sugar and rice as well as crude oil from Iran.

Chabahar is to be linked with Delaram-Zaranj road built by India in Afghanistan that connects Afghan-Iran border via Zahedan. The consignment will be transported overland to Afghanistan from Chabahar. Since past year, India has, however, been able to send goods to Kabul via an air-freight corridor.

"The shipment is part of commitment made by the Government of India to supply 1.1 million tonnes of wheat for the people of Afghanistan on grant basis", the Indian External Affairs Ministry noted in its statement.

The development comes in the aftermath of United States' new Afghanistan strategy unveiled in August.

The consignment was flagged off by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj from the Gujarat's Kandla port. Swaraj's Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani had also joined the ceremony through video conferencing.

Sources in Ministry of External Affairs indicate that a meeting of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will be held in Tehran in November this year for expanding Indo-Afghan corridor through Iran.

While the strategic benefits of the Chabahar trade route have always been touted by India and Afghanistan, a declining security situation in western Afghanistan could endanger trade convoys, which would have to bypass territory held by Taliban and other militants to reach Kabul and other major Afghan urban centers.

"It will 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".

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter on October 29 that the launch of the trade route "marks a new chapter in regional cooperation & connectivity".

China is already developing the Gwadar port in Pakistan, which is less than 200 kilometres away from Chabahar.

India previously committed $500mn for the development of Chabahar port, but in recent years the country has dragged its feet over investing in the project. "We think there is no contradiction within that policy", he told reporters in India.