Major Trade Route With Afghanistan Reopens
Major Trade Route With Afghanistan Reopens: After four years, Pakistan has formally reopened a major trade route with landlocked Afghanistan. United States and NATO rely heavily on Pakistan’s route and air lines of communications for ferrying supplies and non-lethal military equipment to thousands of international troops stationed in Afghanistan.
Political tensions often have prompted Pakistani authorities to abruptly close the Torkham and Chaman border crossings, reducing bilateral trade to just over $1 billion from $2.6 billion about two years ago.
Once strongly criticized as the main center of international terrorism, authorities had closed the remote Ghulam Khan border (GKB) crossing in North Waziristan (NWA) in 2014 after initiating a major army-led counter-militancy offensive in the tribal district.
Waziristan region has now been almost completely secured and rehabilited as well as reconstruction activities are currently under way there.
Ghulam Khan Trade Route
Trade between the neighbors is conducted under the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement, a bilateral deal signed in 2010.
The current trade volume, according to the chambers of commerce, is hugely weighted towards Pakistan, which is said to have an 80 percent share.
Ghulam Khan is the 3rd largest official crossing point on the nearly 2,600-kilometer, largely porous frontier between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Torkham and Chaman are the other two crossings that Afghans use for bilateral trade and transit through Pakistani land and sea routes. Additionally, the two installations are used by visitors traveling in either direction.
Officials and traders on both sides have welcomed resumption of trade through Ghulam Khan, hoping the move will help ease political tensions and increase bilateral trade.
Afghan and Pakistani traders have long urged their respective governments to isolate business and trade ties from political and security tensions for promoting mutual trust.
Traders have hoped that the move will give a boost to an otherwise declining trade and would also melt the frosty ties between the two countries.
India-funded Iranian port of Chabahar for transit trade
Afghans to look for alternate routes due to tensions and they have turned their attention to the India-funded Iranian port of Chabahar for transit trade, bypassing Pakistan.
The Pakistani port of Karachi, however, is still the most economical route for Afghan transit trade, say business leaders in both countries.
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