The Foreign Office on Monday said that Afghan exports to India through the Wagah border would resume from July 15.
The decision, the FO said, had been taken on Afghanistan’s request for facilitating its transit trade. The trade would be conducted under the Covid-19 protocols.
Afghan exports to India to resume
“With this step, Pakistan has fulfilled its commitments under the Pakistan-Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA). Pakistan has restored bilateral trade and Afghan transit trade at all border crossing terminals to pre-Covid-19 status,” the FO said.
Under the 2010 bilateral trade agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Afghan exports to India are allowed through the Wagah border. The agreement, however, does not allow Indian exports to Afghanistan through Pakistani territory.
The trade under the agreement was suspended in March after the Covid-19 outbreak when Pakistan closed all land border crossings with neighbours.
Last week, Angor Adda Border Crossing was opened for bilateral trade. Kharlachi crossing on Pak-Afghan border, too, has been opened for traffic.
Pakistan’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan Ambassador Mohammad Sadiq said: “Trade should be the mainstay of Pak-Afghan relations and prosperity of region on both sides of the border.”
“We are moving ahead with promoting economic activity on both sides of the border. The Covid-19 SOPs are slowing us down a bit but our direction is right InshaAllah,” he said.
With a view to facilitate Afghanistan’s transit trade, Pakistan has decided to resume Afghan exports through Wagah border cmfrom 15 July 2020, after implementing COVID-19 related protocols. We have already restored bilateral trade and Afghan transit trade at all border crossings.
— Mohammad Sadiq (@AmbassadorSadiq) July 13, 2020
In a statement, the FO said that Pakistan remained fully committed to further strengthening its bilateral relations with Afghanistan in all areas including trade, and to facilitate Afghanistan’s transit trade under APTTA.
The SCCI president informed that about 70pc of Afghanistan’s exports to India are processed through Wagah border while 30pc of its trade with the rest of the world is done via Karachi port.
Pakistan Afghanistan borders reopened for trade
Recently, Pakistan opened up more border crossings for bilateral trade between itself and Afghanistan.
“Pakistan will open Angor Adda and Kharlachi border crossings for trade with Afghanistan. After necessary arrangements by both sides, the two crossings are likely to become operational on 12 July,” he tweeted.
Pakistan will open Angor Adda and Kharlachi border crossings for trade with Afghanistan. After necessary arrangements by both sides, the two crossings are likely to become operational on 12 July. Torkham, Chaman and Ghulam Khan crossings are already open since 22 June.
— Mohammad Sadiq (@AmbassadorSadiq) July 2, 2020
Last month Islamabad reopened the Torkham, Chaman, and Ghulam Khan border crossings, after they were closed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The volume of trade between landlocked Afghanistan and its southern neighbor have been mostly affected by terrorist attacks in Pakistan that Islamabad blames on Afghanistan-based militants, which in turn led to the closure of border crossings.
The three key borders which respectively connect northeastern and southern Afghanistan, had remained closed for several months at different times since 2014.
All the three routes will remain open six days a week only for trade activities, Dawood said in a Twitter post.
“In the spirit of brotherly cooperation and regional connectivity, Pakistan shared Torkham and Chaman border terminal master plans with Afghanistan to enable concurrent and complimentary development on Afghan side,” Sadiq added.
“An enhanced compatibility in trade infrastructure on both sides will help realize shared goal of optimum trade, connectivity and people to people facilitation between the two countries.”
Sadiq’s Afghan counterpart Atif Mashal welcomed Islamabad’s announcement, calling it an “important step.”
“We are certain that the opening of more crossing points will help in the development of bilateral trade between both countries,” Mashal tweeted.
Thank you @AmbassadorSadiq for this important step. We are certain that the opening of more crossing points will help in the development of bilateral trade between both countries. https://t.co/qt8Wdpz2yD
— Atif Mashal عاطف مشعل (@MashalAtif) July 2, 2020
PML-N MNA Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha, while speaking on a point of order in the National Assembly, said it was unfortunate that the announcement, which would also benefit India, was made on a day when the Kashmir Martyrs’ Day was being observed across the country.
She regretted that opposition came to know about the decision to reopen the Wagah border for India-Afghan trade through the media.
The government, she said, should have taken the parliament into confidence before taking such a decision.
News Desk with addl input from other sources