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Pakistan Transit Deal with Tajikistan in Doubt as Afghanistan Backs Out

Saturday 16 March 2013

ISLAMABAD (Pakistan Observer) – In a shocking development, the trilateral transit agreement between Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan runs into snags as Kabul has backed out at the eleventh hour saying it is unable to participate in the talks earlier scheduled in Dushanbe in last week without telling any reasonable reason, a senior official at Commerce Ministry told.

“Afghanistan ’s intentions are questionable as the authorities at Kabul are playing bluff with Islamabad and ostensibly are not interested in signing the trilateral transit agreement. We think that Kabul is under the influence of New Delhi and is hesitant to facilitate Pakistan in having the access to Tajikistan market through transit accord,” the official said.

The official said that the talks were scheduled to be held in last week at Dushanbe in which the top officials of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan were to participate, and the said crucial parleys did not take place on account of non-availability of officials from Kabul on the lame excuse that they are engaged in some other official engagements.

“We have received some vibes from the Kabul that authorities there did not want to have transit access to Central Asian States,” the official said. Pakistan is in dire need of transit agreement with Tajikistan which is not possible without the nod of Afghanistan.

Pakistan traders whatever send their products to Central Asian States, they have to pay duties three times on the way to Tajikistan in the territory of Afghanistan owing to which the prices of the Pakistan’s products in Tajikistan become uncompetitive.

And the products that are sent to Central Asian States are considered the exports of Afghanistan and in case the trilateral transit agreement is inked, then Pakistan’s products would reach Tajikistan without paying any sort of duty and the trade would have to pay only transit fee. And the products of Pakistan would not be considered the exports of Afghanistan to Central Asian States.

To a question the official said that Pakistan’s exports to Afghanistan recently hover around $1.6 bln. And if Pakistan manages to get the transit facility, then Pakistan’s exports to Central Asian States would swell manifold.

“Pakistan entrepreneurs are currently sending the food products to Tajikistan and in case of transit agreement, other products like leather, cotton, wheat and rice would also be exported in a bid way, but the attitude of Kabul authorities is not encouraging, the official said.

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