India sends medicines to Afghanistan, wheat to follow

NEW DELHI (AP) — India delivered two tons of medicines to Afghanistan on Friday, although it has not officially recognized its Taliban government.

The medicine was given to Kabul’s Indira Gandhi Hospital, which was set up with Indian assistance in 2004, Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.

Last month, India supplied Afghanistan with 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines and 1.6 tons of medical supplies through the World Health Organization, Bagchi said in a statement.

India also announced that it will provide 50,000 tons of wheat to Afghanistan to ease food shortages there and is working out details of the shipment with Pakistan’s government. Pakistan does not allow Indian transport vehicles to use its land route to Afghanistan because of tense relations with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

Since the chaotic Taliban takeover of Kabul, an already war-devastated Afghan economy once kept alive by international donations is on the verge of collapse. Nearly 80% of Afghanistan’s previous government’s budget came from the international community. That money, now cut off, financed hospitals, schools, factories and government ministries.

New Delhi has no diplomatic presence in Kabul after evacuating its staff ahead of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in August. It did, however, meet with a Taliban representative in Qatar on Aug. 31.

Before the Taliban took Kabul, India provided Afghan security forces with operational training and military equipment, even though it had no troops on the ground. It also was the region’s largest provider of development aid to Afghanistan.

Archrivals India and Pakistan have both long tried to wield influence in Afghanistan to meet their security interests.

India’s leaders fear the Taliban’s rise to power will benefit Pakistan and feed a long-simmering insurgency in the disputed region of Kashmir, where militants already have a foothold.

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