India on Sunday sent its first shipment through Iran’s Chabahar port, in which it had invested millions of dollars for access to Afghanistan, Russia and Europe without having to go through Pakistan. After the first shipment of wheat was sent to Afghanistan through the port, the government called it a “landmark moment” that will pave the way for “alternate, reliable and robust” connectivity to Afghanistan.
The sea route connects Gujarat’s Kandla port to Chabahar, bypassing Pakistan. The shipment will then be taken to Afghanistan through a land route.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj flagged the wheat shipment off at Kandla, with her Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani joining the event through a video link.
“The shipment is part of a commitment made by the government of India to supply 1.1 million tonnes of wheat for the people of Afghanistan on grant basis,” the Ministry of External Affairs said. Six more wheat shipments will be sent over the next few months.
In May 2016, India and Iran had signed the highly anticipated deal on the Chabahar port, which lies in a free trade zone and will be of great strategic value to New Delhi. In February 2016, India had approved a credit line of $150 million (around Rs 1,000 crore) towards the project in an effort to sidestep Pakistan and improve its access especially to Afghanistan, where it has security and economic interests.