Ghani’s pro-India posture

AFGHAN President Ashraf Ghani has taken his anti-Pakistan rhetoric to new heights by threatening to shut the Afghan transit route for Pakistani exports to Central Asia if Islamabad does not allow Afghan traders to use Lahore’s Wagah border for trade with India. In a meeting with UK’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Owen Jenkins in Kabul, he claimed that Afghanistan was no more a landlocked country as it has many transit routes for import and export of goods.
Pakistan has no problem in facilitating Afghanistan in its imports and exports and Islamabad has proved its sincerity throughout the history of bilateral relations. Pakistan has, for decades, offered Afghanistan duty free imports and exports at the cost of its national economy, which has suffered losses to the tune of billions of dollars because of smuggling of goods back into Pakistan under the garb of transit trade agreement. Despite all this, Pakistan never backtracked from its commitment to help Afghan people and even worked out a more comprehensive transit trade agreement with Kabul. However, the issue of allowing trade with India through Wagah border is quite different as it involves serious security risks for Pakistan besides facilitation of trade to India at the expense of Pakistan’s own economy. It is also a question of concessions in bilateral trade between Pakistan and India where New Delhi is inflicting losses to Pakistan through non-tariff barriers. Under these circumstances, the insistence of Afghanistan to allow trade through Wagah is apparently aimed at safeguarding and promoting India’s commercial interests at the expense of Pakistan. Is this, the reward Ghani is giving to Pakistan for extending every possible cooperation to Kabul in boosting its trade and hosting millions of Afghans as refugees for decades? We would remind President Ghani that if Afghanistan has options then Pakistan too has many options for its trade.

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