Transit trade deal: GHQ, ISI were on board?

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Weekly Updates - Traders' Diary

ISLAMABAD  : Commerce Ministry has no regrets about signing the much delayed transit trade deal with Afghanistan. We believe that the deal with Afghanistan is in the national interest and General Head Quarters (GHQ) and Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) were completely on board before the finalisation of the deal, said one of the officials of the Commerce Ministry who was close to the negotiators.

Pakistan has agreed that a feasible proposal with regard to India could be discussed at an appropriate time in future. However, Pakistan will provide a side letter to Afghanistan giving this understanding. This side letter shall not be a part of the Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA).The official further revealed that the Afghans were insisting on free passage of exports and imports from India through Pakistan but Secretary Commerce, Zafar Mahmood rejected this demand entirely and emphasised that any such permission would be linked with Pakistan s security and simply can not be accepted at this time.The official stated that it was the media that had misguided former finance ministers about the deal, which is why they criticised it. According to him, Commerce Minister, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, who inked the deal, telephoned former advisor finance, Dr Salman Shah and apprised him about the exact wording and subsequently he expressed satisfaction over the deal.

The official clarified that Afghan goods are already being transited to
India through Wahgah border. Pakistan has just allowed them to take their goods to Wahgah. Local industry is of the view that Pakistani negotiators have bowed down before pressure from the United States whose Secretary of State also witnessed the signing ceremony.

Recently, Commerce Secretary while talking to Business Recorderhad stated that
Pakistan has sought ironclad guarantees from Afghanistan over unauthorised trade (smuggling). What measurers we had suggested to the government with regard to smuggling have not been given weight, commented one of the stakeholders on condition of anonymity.


Courtesy: Business Recorder

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