In an exclusive conversation with India Today, the European Union’s envoy to Afghanistan Tomas Niklasson said he “hopes” that India and Pakistan resolve the issue of sending humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

Pakistan has sent a list of conditions to India for allowing a transit facility to send 50,000 tonnes of wheat and life-saving medicines to the people of Afghanistan via its soil.

Speaking to India Today, Niklasson said, ““First of all, we very much appreciate India’s offer. It is substantial, it is generous. It is about 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat. That’s what is important. I have heard during my visit here references to some issues with Pakistan but I am not sure what the nature is of those. I understand that conversation is going on between India and Pakistan. I hope that a solution can be found.”

Read | No conditionalities should be attached to sending humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan: India to Pak

Niklasson, who was in New Delhi, held meetings with Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla and other senior officials from the Indian administration.

The EU envoy also said that terror networks that affect India have presence in Afghanistan and expressed concerns over the security situation in the country given that the current Taliban regime, in the name of an inclusive government, consists largely of the Haqqani network.

“What we have now is a government that is very largely composed of Pashtun, entirely composed of the Taliban and is to a large extent composed of the Haqqani network and not a single woman. So, there is quite some work to be done to move into a truly inclusive government and a government that represents its people,” said Ambassador Tomas Niklasson.

“We see that of other organisations, including those that may be harmful and a threat to India. I do not know whether they have expanded, but they are certainly present. There is still a presence of the al-Qaeda,” he added.

Niklasson further said that the EU will “not recognise” the Taliban as a legitimate government of Afghanistan since there is much “mistrust” to overcome and need to build trust.

On asked how the humanitarian funds for Afghanistan announced by the EU will be disbursed, Niklasson said, “In a way, it is not new for us. We have been active in Afghanistan and we have provided humanitarian assistance for more than two decades. A substantial part of that assistance was provided in areas controlled by the Taliban, not through the Taliban, but through the UN organisations, NGOs. That is exactly the same way we will continue to work on that.”

As a first part of this package, we have increased humanitarian assistance five-fold from 50-60 million to close to 300 million.

“We are looking into providing humanitarian plus assistance. We have stopped all development assistance which in the past largely went through trust funds through the government. What we are now looking into is if we can help sustain basic services, particularly education, health,” he added.


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