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President Ghani asks Pakistan to Open Wagah border for trade with India

Dr Raj Kumar Sharma writes: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has recently said that Pakistan should either open Wagah border for trade with India or Afghanistan would stop Pakistan’s trade to Central Asia via its territory.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has recently said that Pakistan should either open Wagah border for trade with India or Afghanistan would stop Pakistan’s trade to Central Asia via its territory. President Ghani had expressed similar views during his visit to India in 2015 and once again, he has repeated his comments just before his Indian visit on September 14, 2016.

As per the Afghanistan–Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement, 2010, Afghanistan goods are offloaded on Indian trucks at Wagah border but on their way back home, the Afghan trucks are not allowed to take back Indian goods. Apart from citing security concerns, Pakistan also fears that its own exports to Afghanistan and Central Asia could suffer if it allows Indian transit trade with these countries through its territory, since Indian trade volume with them would increase. This would decrease Pakistani leverage over Afghanistan and hence, Pakistan does not allow India to access Afghanistan and Central Asia through its territory. That is why; India had to opt for the Chabahar-Zaranj-Delaram link to Afghanistan via Iran. There have been problems in Pakistani route, as Pakistani security agencies harass the truck drivers while there have been many instances where the border is shut by Pakistan, leading to financial loss for Afghan traders. From that point of view, Afghanistan has been looking for a regular and reliable access to Indian market. This would be done by the Chabahar route being developed by India. Security has been cited as a concern on this route but Afghan officials have said that it can be managed and is not a big issue.

Link to the article http://afghanistantimes.af/afghan-president-ghani-warns-pakistan-says-open-wagah-border-or-lose-transit-route-to-central-asia/

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