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NEW DELHI: Pakistan on Wednesday conveyed to India that it would allow humanitarian aid--food and urgent medical supplies--sent by New Delhi to Afghanistan through its territory.

Islamabad’s recalcitrance on the matter was seen as a major stumbling block in India dispatching much needed aid to Afghanistan where the spectre of a humanitarian crisis has been looming.

“As a goodwill gesture towards the brotherly Afghan people, the government of Pakistan has decided to allow the transportation of 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat and life saving medicines from India to Afghanistan via the Wagah border on an exceptional basis for humanitarian purposes," the Pakistan foreign office said in a statement.

“The decision of the Government of Pakistan to this effect was formally conveyed to the Charge d’ Affaires of India at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today," the statement said.

The Indian foreign ministry was yet to formally comment on the matter.

That Islamabad was considering allowing Indian humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan through its territory was indicated earlier this month when Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan’s office put out via Twitter that Khan had said he would “favourably consider" a request by Afghanistan to allow the relief consignment through Pakistani territory. Afghanistan is now governed by the Pakistan backed Taliban.

Last month, a UN report said that Afghanistan was on a “countdown to catastrophe" without urgent humanitarian relief including food reaching the country.

“The combined shocks of drought, conflict, covid-19 and an economic crisis in Afghanistan, have left more than half the population facing a record level of acute hunger," the UN assessment said. The economic crisis in Afghanistan follows the 15 August takeover by the Taliban that has resulted in the blocking of $ 9 billion in Afghan government assets held in the New York Federal Reserve, according to news reports.

India has been urging the need for “unimpeded, unhindered access" for aid and humanitarian assistance providers.

The subject was on the agenda of a meeting of security officials from Iran, Russia, the five Central Asian countries and India in New Delhi 10 November.

“During the NSA (National Security Advisors’) meeting, both the bilateral meetings as well as in the actual conference that took place, there was clearly concern over the very serious humanitarian situation, and I would say looming humanitarian situation rather than just immediate," Indian foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi told reporters after the 10 November meeting.

“All the regional countries were on the same page in expressing their concern on the humanitarian situation and their determination to see that assistance is provided and their call for ensuring unimpeded and unhindered movement of goods as well as movement of aid workers etc. shows the importance of it. I don't think they had a deadline in mind but naturally with winter approaching, and there are disturbing reports coming in off the dire humanitarian situation and I hope that this joint call by so many national security heads would spur movement on the ground," he had added.

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