Pakistan denies India land transit route to Afghanistan

Discussion in 'Subcontinent & Central Asia' started by LETHALFORCE, Jul 18, 2010.

  1. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://www.thenews.com.pk/updates.asp?id=108721

    Pakistan denies India land transit route to Afghanistan
    ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has denied India land transit route to Afghanistan while Trade Minister Amin Fahim has said that Afghanistan has been allowed to use land route to India for trade.

    At the 7th round of talks for Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), the head of Pakistan delegation Himayatullah said the agreement has been reached.

    He said under the agreement India cannot be allowed to use land route to Afghanistan and that India could only use air and see routes.
     
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  3. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect...itorial/19-transit-rights-for-india-870-hh-05

    Transit rights for India


    Islamabad’s rejection of Kabul’s demand for transit trade rights for India to facilitate the movement of Indian goods to landlocked Afghanistan and beyond was not unexpected.

    Nor was the Afghan craving difficult to understand. But the issue of giving transit trade rights to India is more a bilateral matter between Islamabad and New Delhi than a subject to be covered under the Pak-Afghan Transit Trade Agreement being renegotiated under the aegis of the US. The Indians are not allowing transit facilities to Pakistan’s exports to Nepal and Bhutan. The reluctance has its roots in the territorial and political disputes between the two countries.

    In fact, the two countries’ mutual suspicions are inhibiting the expansion of intra-regional trade in South Asia which remains the world’s least integrated area. The vast potential for trade within the region is largely untapped, mostly because of India-Pakistan hostilities. Delhi’s lingering disputes with other countries in the region, too, is not helping regional economic cooperation. The regional preferential and free trade agreements — Sapta and Safta — signed years ago have failed to take off and total intra-regional trade remains only a fraction of the region’s total trade with the rest of the world. Both countries maintain long lists of items that cannot be imported from each other. Islamabad refuses to give India the Most Favoured Nation status while Delhi has raised both tariff and non-tariff barriers to restrict Pakistan’s exports. Consequently, the region’s poor continue to be denied the enormous benefits that flourishing intra-regional trade in manufactured goods, agriculture, services and energy could bring them.

    Given the bilateral tensions and mistrust, few expect the two governments to agree to allow each other land transit rights. It is difficult to imagine authorities in either country taking a positive decision on the issue even if it can reduce mutual mistrust. Perhaps Kabul thinks that US supervision can force Pakistan to give in to its wishes on the matter. But Islamabad has resisted that pressure up until now and may continue to do so unless it is satisfied with what it gets in return.
     
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Deny them the MFN status.
     
  5. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

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    haven't we built port in Iran for transporting goods to afghanistan...??why then need to beg for another transit..??
     
  6. 171K

    171K Tihar Jail Banned

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    Just saw on BBC news Afghanistan & Pakistan have just signed a deal to allow Afghanistan a land route for trade with India, access to Pakistani ports is also included.
     
  7. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Thats only for exports from afghanistan to india.but no import of indian goods are allowed to afghanistan.


    Pakistan-Afghan accord on transit trade


    Afghanistan has nothing to export to india except for mineral it when indian govt sign mining contracts.But then this too india can use to its advantage .
     
  8. Indianrabbit

    Indianrabbit Regular Member

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    Well they are striking 2 birds with one stone deny India opportunity for business at the same time avoid competition for themselves. Also Pakistani's have a inherent fear in mind that India is upto something wrong. The nightmare of 71 is still fresh in their mind.
     
  9. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

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    They are well aware of that Indian can not do any harm via this transit rout. They are just Isolating Afghanistan from India for China.
     
  10. 171K

    171K Tihar Jail Banned

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    What more can one expect from Pakistan hey ajtr?
    They didn't mention that detail in the news I watched! And the question that came to mind was - would Indian drivers, Indian goods be safe going through friendly Pakistan?
     
  11. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    India should not have much problem in access to Afganistan. we have invested a lot for chabahar port and we can access them through Iran. It will be a little costly but a safer option and will also spell doom for Gwadar port . Pakistanis are axing their own feet.
     
  12. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    US meddling in transit trade talks irks ex-diplomats




    Monday, July 19, 2010
    By our correspondent

    PESHAWAR: Former diplomats, intellectuals and leaders of public opinion have shown concern over the American pressure being exerted on Pakistan to extract unilateral concessions for allowing transit trade facility for the Afghanistan-bound Indian goods through the land route from Wagha to Torkham.

    Some of them approached The News to record their serious concern on the occasion of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Pakistan as she was expected to exert pressure on the Pakistan government on this issue. They said this would be unacceptable because Pakistan’s policy of not allowing the use of the Wagha-Torkham land route was based on a broad national consensus giving due weight to vital security considerations and the history of its relations with India.

    The former diplomats, members of the intelligentsia and public opinion leaders pointed out that this issue in the recent context cannot be delinked from Indian activities in using Afghanistan’s soil to subvert and destabilise Pakistan.

    They explained that Brahmadagh Bugti’s operations in organising the Baloch insurgency from the Afghan territory with Indian collusion was a case in point.

    They felt that following the Indo-US nuclear accord, there was a clear convergence of the strategic interests of New Delhi and Washington in the region. They argued that the US pressure on Pakistan to yield its position, which was based on inter-state principles of sovereign equality and mutual benefit, was a blatant manifestation of lack of balance in its policy in the region.

    In their view, Hillary Clinton’s visit to Pakistan was taking place in the backdrop of interesting and mixed diplomatic developments in the region. They said it was preceded by the intensive dialogue between Pakistan and the US in 13 key areas, which is expected to enhance their bilateral relations.

    However, they felt that on the negative side, her visit had come soon after the failure of Indo-Pak bilateral dialogue in Islamabad. They opined that the signing of the MOU on May 6, 2009 during the trilateral heads of states meeting between US, Afghanistan and Pakistan had raised serious concerns in Pakistan. They claimed four American officials sitting in an adjoining room were instantaneously being briefed by the Afghan delegation during the recent official level talks between Afghanistan and Pakistan on the transit trade in Islamabad. In their opinion, this showed the level of US interest in the issue.

    The Pakistani diplomats, intellectuals and public opinion leaders said they were aware of the concerns of the US government about the pervasive anti-US sentiment that was nurtured in Pakistan as a result of past US policies.

    They appreciated the Obama administration’s efforts to reduce the mistrust and suspicions between the US and Pakistan, especially the modus operandi of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her last visit to Pakistan. From the point of view of this policy, they felt it would be not only counter-productive but would also hurt American interests in Pakistan if it got unilateral concessions for India in context of the transit trade through intercession at the highest political level. Such concessions, in their view, would not be sustainable and would give a fillip to mistrust between the US and Pakistan.
     
  13. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    ‘Side letter’ on Indian exports for Afghanistan


    ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will provide a ‘side letter’ to Afghanistan for Indian exports to the war-torn country in future trade arrangements under the US-facilitated Afghan-Pakistan transit trade agreement (APTTA) signed on Sunday.

    The two sides agreed that “no Indian exports to Afghanistan will be allowed through Wagah at this stage”. However, a feasible proposal in this regard can be discussed at an appropriate time in future.

    “Pakistan will provide a side letter to Afghanistan giving this understanding. The side letter shall not be part of the APTTA,” according to a ‘record note’ signed by commerce and trade ministers of the two countries, a copy of which was obtained by Dawn.

    The agreement required Pakistan to facilitate Afghan exports to India through Wagah. Afghan trucks will be allowed access to designated route up to Wagah. “Afghan cargo will be transferred back to back on Indian trucks at Wagah,” it said.

    Some analysts were of the opinion that “back to back transfer of Afghan cargo on Indian trucks” also meant that Afghanistan could purchase Indian goods and then transfer these through trucks to Kabul.

    “This is not the case,” commerce secretary Zafar Mehmood said. He told Dawn: “India will not be able to export its products or goods to Afghanistan under the current arrangement.”

    He said Pakistan’s trade with India was a bilateral issue. Neither Islamabad had given the most favoured nation status to New Delhi nor did trade with India take place through Wagah, except for some items on which decisions were taken on a case-to-case basis, he added.

    Asked if Pakistan and Afghanistan had finalised any timeline for Indian exports to Kabul for which Islamabad would provide a ‘side letter’ outside the APTTA, Mr Mehmood said the indication referred to a possible future scenario in which case India and Pakistan might be able to reach an understanding to start bilateral trade. “This is a non-binding understanding under which any feasible proposal can be discussed at an appropriate time in future.”

    An official said assuming that Islamabad and New Delhi resolved their bilateral issues and started trade, it would not be difficult to dovetail this trade with Afghanistan under the said clause and Pakistan would simply issue a side letter to Afghanistan.

    Asked about the difference between the fresh APTTA and the 1965 Afghan transit trade agreement, Mr Mehmood said the new agreement provided a major concession to Afghanistan to use its own trucks to carry export goods to India through the Wagah border. This was not allowed under the old agreement.

    He said that Afghanistan’s major exports like fresh vegetables, fruit and dry fruits perished through sea routes because of longer transportation time. “That will be a big benefit for Afghanistan.”

    The secretary said that under the new arrangement, Pakistan would be able to combat unauthorised trade and smuggling because goods would now be transported through containers of international specifications and under verifiable standards of sealable trucks to be monitored through tracking devices installed on transport units or trucks.

    He said that Afghan goods would be subject to full customs duties to be charged at the import stage in Karachi or Lahore and reimbursed to Afghan traders after the consignment reached its destination.

    In reply to a question, Mr Mehmood said the current ATTA mostly took place through the National Logistic Cell, which would lose its monopoly and revenue as well, but it was illogical not to allow Afghans to use their own trucks for their own trade. He said he did not see a big deal in allowing Afghan trucks to transport Pakistani goods within its cities on their return after offloading at Wagah.

    Some observers said the ‘record note’ did not envisage physical examination of goods to be transported onboard Afghan trucks which was a main concern. For example, they said, it would not be known to Pakistani authorities whether Afghan trucks were carrying vegetables and fruit or drugs and ammunition.

    They said that since the entire trade would depend on “customs to customs information sharing (IT data and others)”, it was practically impossible to verify exactly what products were passing through Pakistani soil given the general reputation of revenue authorities and the fact that most products imported under the old ATTA made their way into Pakistani markets.

    These technical details required further discussion before the formal signing of the new agreement, they added.
     
  14. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Pak-Afghan transit trade


    International law makes it binding on the neighbouring nations of landlocked countries to provide transit trade facilities. Afghanistan’s transit trade through areas that now constitute Pakistan is rooted in history since British times. Another neighbouring state, Iran’s infrastructure did not allow such a facility in the past. However, now efforts are afoot to link Chahbahar seaport through a railway network to Afghanistan and further to Central Asia, but that will take time. Therefore, transit through Pakistan is currently the only viable option for Afghanistan. Although the recently signed accord between Afghanistan and Pakistan did not concede the Afghan demand of allowing it transit trade facilities from and to India via Pakistan, ostensibly on the plea that India should allow Pakistan similar facilities of trade with Nepal and Bhutan in return, that a broad based understanding has been reached between the two countries is a welcome development. Pakistan’s reluctance to allow Indian goods transit through Pakistan is rooted in its wariness of the growing Indian influence in Afghanistan. In the context of the present seeming impasse in peace talks between India and Pakistan, it was hardly expected that Pakistan would agree to such a concession at this time.

    That the US played an important role in getting this agreement negotiated was highlighted by the conspicuous presence of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke at the time of the signing of the record note. The agreement was long overdue since the changing ground realities and technological advances necessitated the two countries revisiting their previous agreement signed in 1965. The old method of transit and high import duties or illegal charges by custom officials on both sides had encouraged smuggling, which incurred a loss of revenue and flooded the Pakistani market with cheap smuggled goods. Some supplies meant for Afghan destinations transported through open trucks ended up in the Pakistani market. The use of containers of international specifications for non-perishable goods of appropriate size is expected to prevent this to a great extent. It is also hoped that the issue of smuggling will be appropriately addressed in the new Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), to be signed after the review process has been completed by both sides.

    Pakistan and Afghanistan have reached an understanding on the broad parameters of Afghan exports to Pakistan and India and the use of Afghan territory for Pakistan’s exports to the Central Asian states. This is a major achievement as Pakistan had dreamed of accessing Central Asia since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, which yielded 15 new states and thus offered new markets, which, like Afghanistan, are landlocked and have vast economic and trade potential. Geographically, routes to the south for Central Asia are most feasible for trade, as other directions involve long distances, lack of infrastructure or prohibitive climate and topography. If Pakistan is successful in tapping the Central Asian markets, it can become a major trade corridor through the Karachi and Gwadar seaports. Similar attempts are being made by Iran through developing the Chahbahar seaport, which is located on the Makran coast in the Sistan-Balochistan province in Iran, just a few kilometres away from Gwadar across the border. It has been officially designated as a Free Trade and Industrial Zone by the Iranian government. In such a competitive environment, better transit services and more developed infrastructure will give an edge to Pakistan. Tapping this potential is of critical importance for Pakistan’s heavily aid-dependent economy. *
     
  15. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Trading ties




    Tuesday, July 20, 2010
    The agreement signed between Pakistan and Afghanistan, allowing Afghanistan to export goods to India via Pakistan and for Pakistani goods to reach Central Asia through Afghanistan is good news. Indian goods will not be permitted to make their way across the Wagah border to Afghanistan and Central Asia. The accord, signed in the presence of the US Secretary of State, highlights the advantages of good ties with neighbours. Washington's role in bringing it about should help the struggling economies of both countries. This indeed is precisely the kind of assistance Pakistan most needs. Bolstering its exports could of course play a key role in economic growth. Indeed only an economic turn-around can change the fate of the people – by providing employment and bringing badly needed resources into the country. We know too that Pakistan has considerable potential as an exporting nation. Items ranging from textiles to fruit rank among those it could send out. The new accord, opening up the potentially large markets of Central Asia, should help it do so.

    The commerce managers of the country now need to ensure that the maximum possible benefit is obtained. Over the past few decades, Pakistani exports have declined – with India, and also Bangladesh, offering fierce competition. We need to regain our place in world markets. Accords such as the one reached with Afghanistan offer one step forward in this direction and could also play an important role in bolstering an economy which has been crippled by years of political instability and unrelenting militancy.
     

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