Cargoes Fly Free From India and Afghanistan, Bypass Pakistan

The sixth Ministerial Conference of Heart of Asia was held in Amritsar last December. The key elements of the conference was to challenge terrorism in the heart of Asian region, especially Afghanistan. The elements included countering extremism, exploring cultural and civilisation similarities, cooperation in the educational sector and providing connectivity to Afghanistan for its development

An aircraft packed with 60 tonnes of Afghan plants with medicinal uses marked the opening of the first air cargo corridor between Afghanistan and India today. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has received the plane. The cargo, worth about $11 million dollars, was the first in what officials from the two countries hope will be many flights allowing Afghan and Indian companies to bypass Pakistan, which strictly limits the shipment of goods by land between India and Afghanistan often as part of border disputes.
Afghanistan depends on the Pakistani port of Karachi for its foreign trade. It is allowed to send a limited amount of goods overland through Pakistan into India, but imports from India are not allowed along this route.

The new air corridor aims to boost trade between India and Afghanistan from $ 350 million to $ 1 billion in three years. While it bypasses Pakistan, necessary overflight permissions have been taken, though it allows the possibility of Islamabad acting as a spoiler if it wants.

Ashraf Ghani inaugurated the air corridor between India and Afghanistan.

Next week, the second flight to India is scheduled to depart from the southern city of Kandahar, carrying 40 tonnes of dried fruit.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani first proposed the air corridor in September last year in a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi; details were worked out when both attended a regional summit in Amritsar in December.

The first flight in this corridor from Delhi to Kabul yesterday exported 100 tonnes of Indian goods. There will be five flights every week from Kabul and Kandahar to India.

The cargo service aims to improve landlocked Afghanistan’s links to markets abroad and boost the growth prospects of its agricultural and carpet industries while it battles a deadly Taliban insurgency, Indian officials have said.

“We will continue to assist you in various ways as this corridor expands and grows into a network of cargo flights as per the demand of the market,” India’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Manpreet Vohra, told President Ghani.

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