India, Pakistan send help to Afghanistan after deadly earthquake

The two South Asian nations offer humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, where a powerful earthquake has killed more than 1,000 people.

An Afghan girl carries empty water containers in an area affected by an earthquake in Gayan, Afghanistan [Ali Khara/Reuters]

India and Pakistan have sent humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan where a powerful earthquake has killed more than 1,000 people.

India said it has sent a technical team to the Afghan capital, Kabul, to coordinate the delivery of aid, while trucks of food and other necessities arrived from Pakistan, where also the tremors were felt in some areas.

India’s foreign ministry on Thursday said it had sent 27 tonnes of supplies on two flights to be handed over to international aid agencies and the Afghan Red Crescent Society.

Afghanistan earthquake
Villagers and officials examine extent of damage at a village in Bernal district, Paktika province, Afghanistan [Ahmad Sahel Arman/AFP]

The ministry said its team has been deployed to its embassy in Kabul, which has been vacant since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August.

The ministry statement did not give details about the technical team, saying it was sent to “closely monitor and coordinate the efforts of various stakeholders for the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance” as part of a “continuation of our engagement with the Afghan people”.

“As always, India stands in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, with whom we share centuries-old ties, and remains firmly committed to providing immediate relief assistance for the Afghan people,” the statement said.

Pictures of the relief effort were accompanied by a tweet from India’s Foreign Minister S Jaishankar: “India, a true first responder.”

Residents in the hardest-hit districts of Paktika province in the northeast appeared to largely be on their own in trying to survive after the earthquake, with the Taliban-led government and the international aid community struggling to bring in help.

Pakistan said it has dispatched relief goods for the people affected by the earthquake in Afghanistan.

“The consignment arranged by the National Disaster Management Authority consists of family tents, tarpaulins, blankets and emergency medicines,” a statement by the Pakistani prime minister’s office and shared with Al Jazeera said on Thursday.

“Pakistan has assured all possible support to ameliorate the sufferings of the Afghan families affected by the 6.1 magnitude earthquake,” it said.

Afghanistan earthquake
A man carries bags of bread transported by a helicopter in Gayan, Afghanistan [Ali Khara/Reuters]

The disaster is a big test for the Taliban government, which has been largely isolated and shunned by many countries because of worries about human rights and cut off from much direct international assistance because of the sanctions imposed by Western governments.

India was left with no diplomatic presence in Kabul after it evacuated its staff before the US withdrawal from Afghanistan last year.

But it has sent 20,000 tonnes of wheat, 13 tonnes of medicines, 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines and winter clothing to Afghanistan to help with shortages there since then, according to its foreign ministry.

Indian officials held talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan for the first time early this month to discuss the distribution of humanitarian assistance. India’s envoys have previously met Taliban representatives in Doha, the capital of Qatar, where it has an office.

India has said it will follow the lead of the United Nations in deciding whether to recognise the Taliban government.

Large parts of South Asia are seismically active because a tectonic plate known as the Indian plate is pushing north into the Eurasian plate.

In 2015, an earthquake struck the remote Afghan northeast, killing several hundred people in Afghanistan and nearby northern Pakistan.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies