Humanitarian assistance to Afghan people


Afghanistan is already facing a crisis on many counts — severe drought has triggered a famine, while the economy is in dire straits after decades of conflict. The quake has added to the woes of the Afghan people. India, which has been generously assisting Afghanistan in recent years by providing foodgrains, medicines and Covid vaccines, needs to rise to the occasion once again. An Indian delegation had met Taliban leaders earlier this month, demonstrating New Delhi’s readiness to engage with Kabul despite the fact that the current government in Afghanistan is neither representative nor inclusive. There is no respite for Afghanistan from tragedies — man-made or natural. An earthquake rocked the eastern part of the war-torn country on Wednesday, killing around 1,000 people.
The Taliban regime, which took charge of Kabul in August last year as the US troops pulled out, faces three major challenges — rescue, relief and rehabilitation. The disaster has prompted Taliban’s reclusive supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada to appeal to the international community and all humanitarian organisations to spare no effort to help the affected people. Though international recognition continues to be elusive for the regime, it needs to pull out all the stops to deal with the upheaval caused by the quake. Close coordination between the Taliban and the global community is a must to ensure that relief material reaches the needy at the earliest. Unfortunately, the emergency response has been hampered by the absence of several international aid agencies. The two countries are bound by a ‘thousand ties’, as the then Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had put it while welcoming PM Modi in Kabul in December 2015. Modi had inaugurated the Afghan Parliament building, which had been built by India at a cost of $90 million. Even amid the two-decade-long war, India managed to invest around $3 billion in more than 500 projects in Afghanistan in sectors such as power, water supply, road connectivity, healthcare, education and agriculture. Helping the quake-hit country would bring more goodwill to New Delhi and cement India’s reputation. India on Saturday sent a fresh shipment of 3,000 metric tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan via the Pakistani land route as part of its humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people. With the new consignment, India has completed sending 33,500 metric tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan in partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP).

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