By Ravinder Singh Robin
Amritsar [India], Sept. 11 (ANI
): Traders doing business with Afghanistan were disappointed after Pakistan turned down the former's demand to allow Kabul to import goods from Indian through Attari- Wagah trade route.
Notably, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani demanded that India allows to exports its goods through Wagah land route to Afghanistan, otherwise Kabul will block Islamabad's trade to central Asian countries.
Reports say that India's bilateral trade with Afghanistan has reached near 700 USD last year, despite the lack of direct land access from India to Afghanistan.
India is the second-largest destination for Afghan exports.
India has been asking Pakistan to grant her transit route to Afghanistan through Attari Wagah land route but Pakistan never responded positively to India on this issue.
Pakistan's intention to build business relations with India has always been seen sceptically. India has granted Most Favored Nation (MFN) status to Pakistan in 1998, but Pakistan seems reluctant to reciprocate the gesture to India.
However, traders feel that if Pakistan gives them transit route to Afghanistan to export Indian goods, it will mutually benefit all the three countries India would have direct access to central Asia or vice a versa.
BK Bajaj, Indo-Foreign Chamber of Commerce president revealed that traditionally Amritsar was the main centre of road and rail trade with Pakistan and Afghanistan but now it has become one way traffic.
"We are allow to import specific items from Afghanistan however to export to Afghanistan we have to go through some other route which not only longer but costlier too", he said.
Further stated that under the UN Charter, Pakistan has to give freedom of transit to Afghanistan which is a land locked country, Bajaj asserted that it's Pakistan who is blackmailing both the countries and violating the International law.
It's pertinent to mention that India has set up Integrated Check Post (ICP) in about 130 acres of land by spending about 200 cores of rupees to enhance trade with Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Suneet Kochhar, chairman of The Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry (ASSOCHAM) Punjab said, "How can traders enhance trade and build the trade ties with one way traffic, until and unless Pakistan comes up whole heartedly to provide all logistics to enhance trade in south Asia".
Rajdeep Uppal, founding member of Confederation of International Chamber of Commerce while talking to ANI
said that, import of Afghani products to India via Attari - Wagah land route exists, however, Pakistan is not allowing India's exports goods through the same route which has much in demand.
"Once Pakistan allows transit route to Afghanistan the trade would increase to multimillion USD"' he added.
Earlier, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria told the BBC Urdu service as well as sections of the Pakistan media that under the agreement, Afghan traders are allowed to move their products to India through the Wagah border but were not allowed to carry back Indian goods. (ANI