Islamabad warns Kabul to not misuse transit trade facility

—– FO expresses concerns that customs duties and taxes are not paid accordingly
—– Adds Kabul must follow the rules and regulations of transit trade agreement
—– Asserts many goods Afghanistan imports through transit trade end up in Pakistan illegally

By Asghar Ali Mubarak

ISLAMABAD: As the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan remains tense, the Foreign Office on Thursday accused the interim Afghan government of misusing the transit trade agreement.

Afghanistan is a landlocked country and relies on a transit trade agreement with Pakistan to do trade with the outside world.
However, at a weekly news briefing, Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said that Paki-stan had concerns that the transit trade facility was being misused.

“We are concerned that the transit trade agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan is being mis-used,” the spokesperson said.

“It is important for our customs authorities to ensure that any border trade that takes place complies with the understandings and agreements that exist between Pakistan and Afghanistan and that such commercial activities do not contravene Pakistani laws,” she added.
The main concern of Pakistan is that many goods Afghanistan imports through transit trade end up in Pakistan illegally.

“Our major concern is that sometimes the imports that are meant for Afghanistan are diverted back to Pakistan and the customs duties and taxes are not paid as they should be. So, there are certain con-cerns of our customs authorities that people are misusing the bilateral provisions that allow for trade with Afghanistan,” she explained.

The concern over the misuse of a transit trade facility came at a time when the main border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan has remained shut for over a week. The Torkham border crossing was closed after both sides exchanged fire on September 6. Both countries accused the other of initi-ating the fire and subsequent closure of the border.

The spokesperson, however, said that the border closure was temporary and some development would take place in the coming days.

At the heart of Pakistan-Afghan tension is the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Pakistan is upset that the interim Afghan government has done little or nothing to tackle the TTP, which contin-ued to launch terrorist attacks from across the border.

The recent terrorist attack in Chitral from across the border has further deepened tensions between the two countries.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson formally confirmed that Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar would participate in the high-level debate of the 78th session of the United Nations (UN) General As-sembly in New York from 18-23 September 2023. Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani will accompany the premier.

The prime minister will address the UN General Assembly on September 22, 2023. He will outline Paki-stan’s perspective on a range of regional and global issues of concern including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute which is among the longest standing unresolved items on the UN agenda.

The prime minister will elaborate on the significant measures being taken by the caretaker govern-ment to consolidate Pakistan’s economic recovery and efforts to mobilise domestic and external in-vestment.

The premier will also participate in a summit on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other high-level meetings organised under the auspice of the UN General Assembly.

These will afford valuable platforms to deliberate on effective measures required at the global level for addressing the most pressing economic and development challenges confronting the Global South in the wake of the Covid pandemic, geo-political contestations and climate change.

On the sidelines of the UNGA session, the prime minister will hold bilateral meetings with counter-parts from various countries as well as with the heads of international organisations, philanthropic or-ganisations and corporate leaders.

He will also avail of the opportunity to engage with other heads of state and government attending the UNGA session during the various activities organised on the sidelines. PM Kakar will also hold in-teractions with the international media.

“Pakistan sees the United Nations as the most representative and inclusive forum of nation-states. The prime minister’s participation in the UNGA session is a demonstration of Pakistan’s abiding com-mitment to multilateralism, with the UN playing a pivotal role in international affairs for promoting peace and prosperity worldwide,” the spokespersons said.