News / Asia

    Pakistan, Afghanistan Look to Boost Trade and Security

    FILE - Afghanistan's flag is seen hoisted before the President House in Islamabad, Pakistan, Nov. 13, 2014, ahead of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's first state visit to neighboring Pakistan.
    FILE - Afghanistan's flag is seen hoisted before the President House in Islamabad, Pakistan, Nov. 13, 2014, ahead of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's first state visit to neighboring Pakistan.
    Ayaz Gul

    With several recent high-level visits to Islamabad from global trading partners, including nearby Iran, Pakistani officials are indicating they want to increase business with Afghanistan.

    The officials say they have taken significant steps in recent years to facilitate landlocked Afghanistan’s trade, but insist the neighboring country’s opposition to regulation of cross-border flows of people and commercial goods continues to hamper expansion in bilateral trade and transport.

    Afghanistan has conducted its global trade through Pakistani sea port facilities under a 1965 bilateral treaty that was renegotiated in 2010 in a mutual bid to address tensions and reduce acrimony.  Currently, there are only two border crossings open for trade, Torkham in the northwest and Chaman in southwestern Pakistan.

    Afghan authorities have long accused Pakistan of not allowing free movement of transit and trade and that Islamabad has not delivered on commitments to remove impediments.

    Pakistani officials say illegal trade in the guise of legitimate business is impacting the national economy.  They say despite challenges, the steps they have taken to facilitate trade with Afghanistan have increased container shipments between the two countries from 40,000 in 2014 to 50,000 last year.

    Pakistani Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan says his government has reduced scanning of trucks transporting Afghan imports and exports through its territory.  He says Afghan containers carrying perishable goods, mainly fruits and vegetables, are allowed full access to the Pakistani border with India and to the Karachi seaport to facilitate fast movement.

    The minister adds that on the way back, Afghan trucks are allowed to take Pakistani exports to Afghanistan so they can justify their trip economically.  He adds Islamabad has also reduced the percentage of scanning of Afghan transit trade from 100 percent to 20 percent. 

    "The difficult issue is that we feel that any effort by Pakistan to regulate the flow of goods and people across our border with Afghanistan is resisted by Afghanistan," said Khan.

    Pakistani officials estimate up to 50,000 people move across the border with Afghanistan every day.  While official formal trade volume is around $2 billion, conservative estimates put the volume of informal trade at nearly $3 billion.

    “Both countries have formal agreements on customs information sharing, but this is something that sooner or later we will have to do by mutual agreement that this flow of people, which is in the tens of thousands each day, we will have to regulate it.  Similarly, the flow of goods, a part of which is formal, but a large part of it is also informal, will have to be regulated,” Khan noted.  

    The two countries share a 2,500-kilometer porous border that encourages militants to move back and forth without detection.

    Afghan authorities allege leaders of the Taliban are using Pakistan to direct insurgent activities on their side of the border, while Pakistani officials say anti-state militants sheltering in Afghanistan are behind terrorist attacks in their country.

    The border, called the Durand Line, was established more than century ago during British rule.  Kabul does not recognize the boundary as an international frontier and insists strict border controls will further divide Pashtun tribes on both sides.  

    Afghan Minster of Commerce Humayoon Rasaw said he believes that both countries need to deal with trade and security issues separately.

    “Once we build the [mutual] trust and increase our trade I think it will affect the security section also.  We are very keen to increase our bilateral trade with Pakistan.  Pakistan is also one of the biggest partners for us and we are going to further increase that," the Afghan minister told VOA.

    "So once we solve the issues of transit and very small [other] issues that we have, then I think that will also contribute in the peace and stability in the region," he added.

    Afghanistan has also been demanding inclusion of India in the transit trade agreement with Pakistan to be able to directly export and import Indian products.

    Pakistani businesses and industries say that would give India the same advantage of short distance that Pakistan is enjoying and would reduce the competitiveness of Pakistani goods being exported to Afghanistan and on to Central Asian countries.  

    Several of those involved, like former Pakistani Commerce Minister, Mohammad Zubair, say Afghanistan and Pakistan can improve trade if they follow best international practices to address problems.

    “This approach will lower tensions, reduce acrimony and further trade in the interest of both countries.  The gains in this are not just in the context of the bilateral trade, but will help the regional trade,” Zubair noted.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora