Pakistan on Sunday said it will extend by two months the time for India to transport 50,000 tonnes of wheat and life-saving medicines to Afghanistan via the Wagah-Attari land border crossing.

The Pakistan government had, as a special gesture towards the Afghan people, approved the transportation of the wheat and life-saving medicines from India to Afghanistan via the Wagah border crossing on “exceptional basis for humanitarian purposes”, the Foreign Office in Islamabad said in a statement.

After the time period for transporting the humanitarian assistance expired on March 21, the Indian side recently requested an extension of the time to complete the transportation process, the statement added.

“As a manifestation of our sincere efforts towards addressing the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, it has been decided to grant two months’ extension to facilitate completion of the transportation. All the modalities shall remain the same as earlier communicated to the Indian side,” the statement said.

The Foreign Office also informed the Indian high commission in Islamabad about the decision.

The Indian government has signed agreements with the World Food Programme (WFP) for the delivery and distribution of the wheat in Afghanistan. The humanitarian assistance is being transported in Afghan trucks via the Wagah land border crossing. The first convoy of 50 trucks carrying wheat had been flagged off by foreign secretary Harsh Shringla in February.

The Indian side has also supplied 500,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin, 13 tonnes of life-saving medicines and 500 units of winter clothing. These relief materials were handed over to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Indira Gandhi Hospital in Kabul.

India first made the offer to send 50,000 tonnes of wheat via Pakistani land routes on October 7 last year, and the matter was held up for more than four months because of negotiations with the Pakistani side to finalise modalities.

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