India and Afghanistan on 19 June formally inaugurated the much-awaited air freight corridor between the two nations that will provide them a direct trade route bypassing Pakistan.
The first flight from Kabul to Delhi establishing the freight corridor was received last evening by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the presence of Civil Aviation Minister Ganapati Raju, Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar and Ambassador of Afghanistan to India Shaida Abdali.
The flight, which carried 60 tonnes of cargo (mainly ‘hing’) from Afghanistan, was flagged off in Kabul by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
A similar cargo flight from Delhi to Kabul had earlier carried 100 tonnes of cargo (mainly pharmaceuticals, water purifiers, medical equipment) from Delhi to Kabul on 18 June.
The connectivity established through the corridor will provide Afghanistan, a landlocked country, greater access to markets in India, and will allow Afghan businessmen to leverage India’s economic growth and trade networks for the country’s benefit. It would enable Afghan farmers quick and direct access to the Indian markets for their perishable produce.
The need for the corridor was felt by both countries since Pakistan refuses to permit India the transit facility through its territory to Afghanistan. India also proposes toextend air cargo flights to other cities between India and Afghanistan. These routes and corridors are aimed at providing sea, land and air access route for Afghanistan to regional and global markets in South Asia and beyond, the External Affairs Ministry said.
Inaugurating the freight corridor in Kabul, the Afghan President, in a veiled reference to Pakistan, said, “Those who create crisis for us must learn that we change the challenge to opportunity.”