Pakistan and Afghanistan on Sunday reached an understanding on major issues related to a new bilateral transit trade pact though Indian exports to Afghanistan via the Wagah land route will not be permitted under the proposed agreement.
“It has been agreed that no Indian export to Afghanistan will be allowed through Wagah. However, Afghanistan would have the opportunity to export to India,” said a statement issued by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s office.
Pakistan will reciprocally be able to export its goods to Central Asia through Afghanistan, the statement said.
Final shape was given to the proposed pact, which will replace an agreement signed in 1965, during seven protracted rounds of negotiations.
The official statement said the two sides had reached “an understanding on all major issues” related to the Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement and concluded the “process of negotiations in this regard.”
A “broad-based record note” was signed this evening by Pakistan’s Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim and his Afghan counterpart Anwar-ul-Haq Ahady in the presence of Mr. Gilani and visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Islamabad has for long resisted pressure from Kabul to allow the export of Indian goods by land through Pakistani territory.
The record note stated that Pakistan and Afghanistan “hope that the resolution of all outstanding matters” related to the Transit Trade Agreement will help in the early signing of the pact after completion of legal processes by both sides.
“The Agreement thus signed would be an important milestone in the development of Pak-Afghan trade and economic relationship to the mutual benefit of both sides,” the note said.
The note further said Afghan trucks will be allowed to carry export cargo on designated routes to Pakistani seaports and the Wagah land border post.
Afghan transport units, on their return, will be permitted to carry goods from Pakistan to Afghanistan “under the same expeditious procedures and conditions as Pakistani transport units”, it added.
The two sides decided Afghan transit goods will be exported in containers of international specifications.
For a period of three years, standard cargo will be transported in internationally acceptable and verifiable standards of sealable trucks while oversize and bulk cargo imported by ship will be transported in open trucks or other transport units.