India finds route to Kabul via Pakistani seaports

Published: July 20, 2010

Pakistan has allowed India to sell its products to Afghanistan and up to Central Asia via Pakistani seaports. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has allowed India to sell its products to Afghanistan and up to Central Asia via Pakistani seaports, reveals the commerce secretary. But experts fear that the decision may allow New Delhi to outpace Islamabad in its industrial exports to Kabul, which is a gateway to the land-locked Central Asia.

In an interview with The Express Tribune, Commerce Secretary Zafar Mahmood said that under the Pak-Afghan Transit Trade Agreement, Afghanistan can import Indian products through the sea route.

He said the facility was already available but now Afghanistan’s trucks would be allowed to load these products directly from the seaports.

Zafar Mahmood was speaking for the first time after Islamabad and Kabul signed on Sunday a new transit trade treaty in the presence of US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. It is believed that the US pressured Pakistan into giving trade concessions to Afghanistan.

Under the existing trade arrangement, Afghanistan’s trucks were not allowed to move beyond Peshawar to carry Afghanistan-bound goods. However, under the new arrangement, yet to be ratified by the cabinet, Afghanistan’s trucks have been permitted to go to Pakistani seaports and Wagah border.

Naeem Bukhari, an expert in trade affairs, said that India got the edge by virtue of the new agreement, as its industrial hub was in Mumbai and it would export its goods to Afghanistan, which is a gateway to the Central Asia, via Pakistani ports. He said India now will have formal trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia and it would outpace Pakistan’s industrial exports to these countries.

The commerce secretary said that India would not be allowed to sell its products to Afghanistan via the Wagha border till the normalisation of bilateral relations. In Bukhari’s opinion, by not allowing India to use the Wagha border Pakistan only secured its perishable exports to Afghanistan. He added that Islamabad ceded ground to New Delhi by extending it sea to land route for its industrial exports to Kabul.

The secretary said that the agreement was a win-win situation for both the countries. “Pakistan would be able to effectively check smuggling and Afghan truckers would get a boost on top of having opportunity of trading with India”.

He said still it was not a formal agreement but a record note of decisions, which were taken in the meeting. “It has more moral value than a legal status. However, it ends the process of negotiations.”

He said keeping in mind the broader principles agreed upon between the two states the details will be incorporated, which would be ratified by the cabinet.  He said the final agreement would be signed soon.

Zafar Mahmood said that the major achievement was that all Afghanistan-bound imports on Karachi port will only be cleared after taking bank guarantees equivalent to the import duties on the imported items from the importer or his clearing agent. He said these guarantees would be refunded only after Pakistan satisfied itself that the consignment had reached its destination.  He said in case of doubt Pakistan could forfeit the financial guarantees.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Umayr Masud
    Jul 20, 2010 - 10:39AM

    Isn’t it amazing that we do not have any negotiators in the Government/Ministries etc. It is absolutely baffling how such accords are signed. This was an opportunity in which Pakistan could’ve forced some of its own trading terms. Useless and Sad.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Jul 20, 2010 - 11:32AM

    I dont understand why Pakistan is scared of Indian exports to Pakistan. If Pakistan can survive the Chinese onslaught and China not having “flood” its market then how can India do so?

    No Indian has ever come to Pakistan in the form as a Terrorist. But, the other way around is not true.

    Argument that Indian goods will be smuggled into Pakistan,again “flooding” the market, is unfounded as Afghanistan’s neighbour is none other than China who could do the same but at a grander scale. Its only a matter of time when Chinese goods start flooding Afghanistan.

    Pakistan is just afraid of any trade relations between Afghanistan and India,which already exists via Iran. India spent billions into building ports in Iran for this purpose and roads in Afghanistan to lessen the dependence of Afghanistan on Pakistani sea ports!

    Pakistan if it had acted smart would’ve negated this investment. But, Pakistanis are ruled by inept,populist, half-wits who dont realize this or powerless to cross the Military who decide anything related to India. Recommend

  • syed iftikhar ahmed
    Jul 20, 2010 - 11:41AM

    On one side india is not ready even to talk on core issues with pakistan and applies delaying tactices and on the other side our government is facilitating and promoting india’s trade with afghanistan and central asian countries at the cost of our own industries. this approach of our govt. is un-understandable. india is trying to make pakistan weaker and weader day by day while pakistan is trying to boost their trade. amazing.Recommend

  • Amjad
    Jul 20, 2010 - 2:11PM

    Anoop, your memory is short lived as only few months back your govenment was appealing Pakistan to grant pardon to already convicted Indian secret agency man who was involved in several bommb blasts in Pakistan and is now facing his ultimate fate in the form of death sentence awarded by Pakistani Court.
    Recommend

  • khan
    Jul 20, 2010 - 4:02PM

    New afghan Pakistan trade agreement despite Indian intrasingence to enter into meaningful talks with pakistan , needs some expalnation to following answers.
    1: Afghanistan has aleardy the facility of Karachi port this could reciprocated by that contry to give trade facility to pakidtas upto central asia.
    2: why additional facility through wagah?
    3: Punjab lands will be used for this facilty, does Punjab Govt any objection?or has it been consulted?
    4: what Afganistan will export to india? water melons?
    5:Clossal damage is already being done to karachi / Peshawar motorway by Nato Trucks, who will be responsible for road repairs.Recommend

  • Ahmed Quraishi
    Jul 20, 2010 - 5:11PM

    To Anoop:
    No Indian has ever come to Pakistan in the form of a terrorist?

    You must be one gullible Indian. Here’s a news flash for you:

    1. Indian ‘terrorists’ invaded Pakistan in 1971 when we were busy in internal politics. It was a one-sided act of war and aggression. India invaded without provocation and activated scores of terrorists on its payroll inside Pakistan at the time to ensure a bloodbath inside Pakistan.
    2. An Indian terrorist Sarabjeet Singh was released by a media-hungry Pakistani minister from jail in 2007. He returned to India and admitted he was recruited by Indian intelligence to plant bombs in Pakistani cities in early 1990s. His acts resulted in the murder of two dozen Pakistani civilians in public places. His confession didn’t come under duress in Pakistan but inside India in front of TV cameras.
    3. Since 1990, Pakistani law enforcement agencies have arrested dozens of Indians and Indian agents sent by RAW and your other agencies to conduct terrorism on Pakistani soil.
    4. ndian-backed terrorists continue to play with fire on the Pak-Afghan border
    5. Indian-backed terrorists in Afghanistan travel on Indian passports provided to them by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, Indian military intelligence, and RAW.
    6. Indian terrorists working as officers in the Indian Military Intelligence planted bombs on Samjota Express and burned 58 Pakistanis alive.

    Is this enough or do you need more information on the number of Indians who have entered Pakistan as terrorists?

    P.S. Remember that India invaded Pakistan without provocation in 1971. At the time there was no Kashmir insurgency, no Lashkar, and no Mumbai. India has been exporting terrorism to Pakistan way before the word was even coined. It is unfortuante we have puppets in power in Islamabad who can’t put together two comprehendible sentences. But trust me, these people are on their way out. Once a patriotic leadership is in place, you in India will beg for talks. Just wait and see.Recommend

  • Ahmed Quraishi
    Jul 20, 2010 - 5:14PM

    See [Pakistan Concedes To India, Again][1]

    [1]: http://www.ahmedquraishi.com/latest_col.php?id=121&r=t&c=y

    See the picture. It’s more than words could say.Recommend

  • Zarghun Khan
    Jul 20, 2010 - 6:02PM

    To Ahmed Quraishi: India, Afghanistan and US bashing has become an industry in Pakistan, thanks to the absence of other positive activities. I think Pakistanis need to learn that the world of 21st century is not the one they were so used to. It is a world of intellectual excellence, Scientific innovation, trade and economic growth. Why do not we focus on positive things rather than bashing India, Afghanistan and the West for our catastrophic failures? No one is responsible for the failures of Pakistan. Self-serving generals, predatory bureaucracy and politicians, corrupt dictatorships, religious bigotry and intellectual bankruptcy are responsible for the fall of Pakistan. America, India and Afghanistan are not there to look after your national interests. YOU should rise to the occassion and show to the world that you have the capability of running a civilized and economically viable state – a state where not the generals, but the rule of law reign supreme. We need to disband the India-bashing industry, or we will sink more and more, and ultimately vanish.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Jul 20, 2010 - 6:37PM

    @Amjad and @Ahmed Quraishi,

    You both have a lot of facts wrong and the ones you got right was massaged to suit your arguments. I dont know why I am replying since my post was about trade not who sends terrorists where.

    1) Manjit Singh is convicted by the Pakistani courts. Agree. But, Indians argue that he is Sarbojit Singh and his family is living proof that is not Manjit Singh. You both might want to read about him.

    2) Kashmir Singh was released by Pakistan. Yes, he admitted to spying for India. No arguments there.

    3) Regarding 1971,yes, we did break Pakistan in two. But, Pakistan tried to do the same in 1965 when we had just finished a war with China. We only reciprocated the gesture, but with one difference- We succeeded.
    You call Mukti Bahini Terrorists but Bangladeshis call them Freedom Fighters. Since, Mukti Bahini was led by a elected representative(Remember, Mujibur Rehman winning all the seats in East Pakistan, thus getting the Majority?) it cannot be considered a Terrorist group but a rebel group or a seperatist group.

    4) Regarding your allegation that India is supporting terrorists like TTP,etc., is laughable since the Mujahideens were created by ISI on the funding of CIA. Later, cultivated by the ISI to morph into the Taliban. Tell me, if they were indeed supported by India then why did the Musharraf Govt made a truce deal with them? Even the Civilian Govt followed suit. Remember Fazlullah, Sufi Mohammad?
    Now, ISI head Pasha in an Interview with Ger Spiegel(I hope I got the name correct), a German news outlet had said, Baitullah Mehsud was a “Pakistani patriot” after Mumbai attacks, when Baitullah had said his group will fight alongside Pak army if India attacks. Remember all that? (I can provide the Interview link if you insist or better Google it)
    Now, suddenly after a bunch of illiterate rouges turn on Pakistan, they are supported by India? How convenient!

    Pakistan is in the mess today because it is in denial about its ills. Its like a doctor treating one disease but the patient is suffering from another! The medicines just wont work.Recommend

  • Umayr Masud
    Jul 23, 2010 - 11:01AM

    Lets be honest, its not about INDIA in particular. It is about the incompetence of our trade agencies,ministries and bureaucrats in profiting from opportunities. If we were giving a trade path to anyone we should atleast get something in return. THAT is missing in this agreement. Recommend

  • shekar
    Jul 23, 2010 - 2:40PM

    Hey you know what pakistan has a very convenient way of exporting into india through afghanistan on their trucks to wagah look at it positively you can do good business if you have the productsRecommend

  • Tabassum Khan
    Sep 13, 2010 - 9:28AM

    assalamvalaikum,

    Its the human who is greedy for food, money, land, blood NOT an indian or pakistani or an american. We are responsible for our own downfall becuase what we think we follow that.

    But today if anyone wants to get success in life he has to think for better business, better policies rather than getting into other’s mess regarding who did what, why when…etc.

    Though the words are just our dictating thoughts but what exactly matters is what we think.

    If we have had and having losses we need to learn from these mistakes and if we really are intelligent can sort out these problems instead of stabbing back to opponents by words, by hatred. Its just waste of time and energy.

    Gather your energy into positive atmosphere to get positive results.

    Keep your thoughts for a good cause you will see my friends you will always get a good result.

    Hatred is nothing but a saitan.

    Allah made us human, who has got the best brain to think and best heart to feel for the relations. So stop being animal.

    Its just our own mind that divide us otherwise above all we all are human and we should love everyone. When there is love there is rehmat and thats how Allah is with us then.

    I have just given in general view but i think friends all views simplifies my thought at the end anyhow.

    I pray for all mankind to learn mercy and love.Recommend

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