India just waved off the first shipment of wheat to Afghanistan, via the Iranian port of Chabahar – which became operational with the maiden shipment, and this is the first time that 2016 Indo-Afghan-Iran trilateral pact came into momentum.
In 10th century, an Iranian scholar wrote that the sea coast of India began at the port of Chabahar – located at the eastern edge of Iran in a city called Tis. After over 10 centuries, India reclaimed the geographical and strategic legacy to export consignment of wheat to land-locked Afghanistan through the Iranian port that it jointly developed with Tehran. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) noted that the consignment would be the first to use the new route via Chabahar to access Afghanistan, even as India plans similar transfers in the coming months.
The shipment of wheat is a landmark moment as it will pave the way for operationalisation of the Chabahar port as an alternative, reliable and robust connectivity for Afghanistan. It will open up new opportunities for trade and transit from and to Afghanistan and enhance trade and commerce between the three countries (India, Iran and Afghanistan) and the wider region. This consignment was art of India’s commitment to send 1.1 million tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan on grant basis. So, Kabul will receive the entire amount in six different instalments over the coming months. This is significant because India bypassed the need of Pakistan from port requirements – which has been a major reason of inactive route to Afghanistan.
This comes just a month after the US showed its urge that India must help in stabilizing situations in Afghanistan. Now, the US as had its own problems with Tehran, did not object to India’s use of Iranian port in the interest of its stated objective of stabilizing Afghanistan. The fact the shipment occurred within days of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to the sub-continent suggested Washington’s consent.