South Asia

Pakistan turns down demand to make India part of its transit trade

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani chats with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while watching a cricket match between their two countries in Islamabad on November 15, 2014 during friendlier times. Mr. Ghani has threatened to block Pakistan's access to Central Asian countries if India is not made a part of Islamabad's transit trade with Kabul -- a demand rejected by the Sharif government..  

Pakistan has categorically rejected the demand voiced by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that India be made a party to its transit trade pact with Kabul,saying it is not possible given Islamabad’s sensitivities on security and other related issues.

Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria told the BBC Urdu service as well as sections of the Pakistan media that under the agreement, Afghan traders are allowed to move their products to India through the Wagah border but were not allowed to carry back Indian goods.

The spokesperson was responding to the reported comments made by Mr Ghani during a meeting with the United Kingdom’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Owen Jenkins in Kabul on Friday in which he had threatened to block Pakistan’s trade access to Central Asian States (CAS), if it did not allow Afghanistan to trade with India via the Wagah border.

It will affect all 3 countries

The threat if carried out would have repercussions on India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and beyond coming as it does at a juncture when the region is reeling under the impact of tensions between India and Pakistan at one end and Pakistan and Afghanistan on the other.

It will cast a shadow on the meetings of the South Asian leaders in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly which will be opening on September 13 and run through up to September 26.The Afghan President’s office later toned down the statement that was originally released to the media in Pashto and told journalists what he had meant to say was that Kabul could consider placing restrictions on Pakistani trade with CAS via Afghanistan.

"Pakistan keepng its word"

Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesperson refuted the implied suggestion of the Afghan President on trade transit facility and asserted that “Pakistan is fulfilling its commitment to the Afghan people by providing them a trade transit facility”. He contended that under Islamabad’s bilateral agreement with Kabul, only Indian goods could not be imported into Afghanistan through Pakistan

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had at the last Heart of Asia ministerial conference in Islamabad expressed India’s wish to join the Afghanistan-Pakistan Trade and Transit Agreement (APTTA).

Looking at options

Pakistan is reportedly looking at options of other routes as well for reaching Tajikistan, bypassing Afghanistan.There are plans for getting Chinese help in linking China-Pakistan Economic Corridor with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan as well as Corridor 5&6 of CAREC (Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation), which will establish connectivity between Pakistan and Central Asia.

The latest bout of verbal exchanges between Islamabad and Kabul comes amid growing acrimony between the two on several issues and particularly in the backdrop of Pakistan’s decision to introduce a new mechanism at its Torkham border that requires every Afghan to carry passport and visa for crossing the border.

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 10:12:32 AM |

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