The trade treaty signed on Sunday between Pakistan and Afghanistan has become a major embarrassment to the visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the deal conspicuously disallows Indian exports to Afghanistan through Wagah border while permitting Afghani exports to India. In recent times, Clinton has projected herself as a peace merchant who encouraged both nuclear nations of the sub-continent to improve diplomatic ties, and thereby facilitate peace in the region.
The shutting of doors to Indian exports is seen as a retaliatory measure, or as to garner more items on the negotiating table while both sides meet again in the ongoing bilateral talks. The case in point for the payback is that India does not allow transit facilities to Pakistan’s exports to Nepal and Bhutan.
At a glance, the accord hugely favours Pakistan as its goods gain access through Afghanistan to Central Asian countries including lucrative markets of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The amended trade deal was signed by Pakistan Commerce Minister Amin Fahim and his Afghan counterpart Anwarul Haq in the presence of Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Islamabad has for long resisted pressure from Kabul to allow the export of Indian goods by land through Pakistani territory. However, this long-standing demand by both Afghanistan and India seemed to impact more the poor of the region than the governments of the nations involved.
The failures of protracted farcical talks between India and Pakistan continue to push every possible event to be used as a tool to blatantly demonstrate displeasure with one another’s actions. Lately, while Islamabad refuses to give India the Most Favoured Nation status, Delhi has raised both tariff and non-tariff barriers to restrict Pakistan’s exports.
It is yet to be seen whether Clinton would be able to play a meaningful role in the region to re-weld the two nuclear states for ushering in peace and prosperity to the region. But given the frequent border tensions and unrest in Kashmir after a respite indicate that any time in near future it is unlikely the two governments giving in to allow each other land transit rights.
Toboc Trade News