Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has warned to shut Pakistan's transit route to Central Asian countries if it does not allow Afghan traders to use Wagah border for trade with India, local media reported on Saturday.
ISLAMABAD: Kabul has warned to shut Pakistan's transit route to Central Asian countries if it does not allow Afghan traders to use Wagah border for trade with India, local media reported on Saturday.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during a meeting with Owen Jenkins, the UK's special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, in Kabul on Friday threatened, "If Pakistan does not allow Afghan traders to use the Wagah border for imports and exports of their goods, Afghanistan will also not allow Pakistan to use Afghan transit routes to reach Central Asia and other countries for exports."
Ghani's statement in Pashto language was posted on Afghan president's official website.
He said, "Afghanistan wanted Pakistan and other regional countries to remove all technical problems that create obstacles in economic cooperation." But Islamabad usually closes transit routes during the fruit season, which President Ghani said, had been causing loss of millions of dollars to Afghan traders.
Afghanistan had many alternatives for international trade, he added. The Afghan President said that India had agreed to exempt Afghanistan from financial tariff for the export of fruits to the country.
Media reports quoted Afghan officials saying that Kabul had long been demanding the use of Pakistan's land route to deliver goods at the Indian border town of Attari via Wagah. "However, Pakistan is reluctant to grant such a permission in view of the state of its relations with New Delhi," they said.
Afghan sources, according to media reports, said that Afghanistan's goods, mostly fresh fruits were stopped at Wagah and not allowed to go up to Attari. "The goods are offloaded in Wagah and then carried in carts up to Attari and loaded on again. This adds to the transportation cost as well as to a significant spoilage," an anonymous Afghan source was quoted as saying.
Afghanistan had asked Pakistan to allow transportation of its fruits to Attari and transfer to Indian trucks in a back to back arrangement. "This alone can will double or triple our export of fruit to India," the source added.
During his meeting with Jenkins, President Ghani again accused Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism.