ISLAMABAD: 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.
“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 2010 accord does not allow Indian exports to Afghanistan through Pakistan
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.
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.
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 through media.
The government, she said, should have taken the parliament into confidence before taking such a decision.
Published in Dawn, July 14th, 2020