Afghanistan has apparently lost interest in signing a comprehensive transit trade agreement with Pakistan and weighing options to use the alternative route of Iran for its trade with India. According to newspaper reports, Afghanistan and India have finished negotiations on a trilateral transport and transit agreement to provide a legal framework to operate a trade corridor via Iran’s Chabahar port. Afghanistan is Pakistan’s nemesis since the first day of the latter’s independence and former is the only country in the world which opposed Pakistan’s membership in the United Nations. Despite close cultural, religious, trade and economic relations, the political relations between the two countries had been on a roller coaster for the last many decades. Despite the fact that millions of Afghan refugees have been living in Pakistan since the Russian invasion on their country and thousands others cross the border into Pakistan daily for economic reasons, there is no soft corner for Pakistan in the heart of Kabul. Pakistan has always tried to help Afghan people in the hours of need, but its overtures could not remove suspicions and negative perceptions about Pakistan.
India has invested about $5 billion in infrastructure development and social sectors in post-Taliban Afghanistan and the relations between Afghanistan and India have continued to grow. India is deeply involved in Afghanistan and has trained the newly established army in Kabul, infusing anti-Pakistan sentiments in it. In modern days, economy is more important than anything else, but it is not a priority of both New Delhi and Kabul to keep economic and trade relations with Pakistan intact. As a matter of fact, using alternative route of Iran will not have any significant loss to the Pakistani economy, but a long route will cause troubles and extra cost to the trade between the two countries. Pakistan should only concern with anti-Pakistan sentiments which India is systematically infusing in Afghanistan. Pakistan is emerging as economic power and China Pakistan Economic Corridor is the best optionand opportunity for the neighbouring countries to work for regional integration.
If the Afghan authorities are slower in responding to the bilateral and transit trade offers, even then Pakistan should try to maintain diplomatic and political relations with all its neighbours, including Afghanistan. The Afghanistan Transit Trade remained a curse for the economy of Pakistan as it is outrageously misused by smugglers living on the both sides of Durand line. Almost all the goods, passing through the Pakistani territory under the garb of Afghan Transit Trade ultimately, landed in the local markets, causing billions of rupees losses to the national exchequer. Let the Afghans and Indians to mind their own business and let the smuggling end in this country in the garb of transit trade.