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Imran Khan agreed Afghan trucks to cross Wagah-Attari border: Ashraf Ghani

30 June, 2019

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KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Saturday he had sought assurance from Pakistani leaders to allow his landlocked country to use Pakistani land route for exporting goods to India.

Afghanistan had long been demanding Pakistan to allow its land route for trade with India, but Islamabad rejected the facility in view of disputes with India.

The Afghan president’s office has posted on its website parts of Ghani’s speech at a gathering of refugees, traders and students in Islamabad about Pakistan’s agreement to allow Afghan trucks cross the Wagah Border and reach Attari in India. However, Pakistani officials have not yet officially confirmed it.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan and other Pakistani officials agreed during meetings that Afghan trucks would be allowed to cross the Wagah-Attari border and delivered goods in India. Similarly Pakistan will be connected with Central Asia via Afghanistan,” he said, according to the website.

A Pakistani official said on Saturday that there had been no final decision.

“He (President Ghani) requested. But still there is no agreement,” the official, who was privy to several meetings, told Daily Times. Ghani said Afghanistan had not shut Torkham crossing but “they (Pakistan) would create problems for Pakistan and goods of Afghan traders would get stuck, but we found alternate routes and now Pakistan will itself solve the problems at the Karachi port and other routes,” according to Ghani’s office.

He had told Punjab businessmen and investors in Lahore on Friday that mistrust between the two countries and violation of trade and transit agreements had led to trade and transit problems.

“The time is ripe to end blame game and focus on agenda of trade and regional connectivity and joint committees of the two countries explore ways to find out solution to the challenges.”

He invited Punjab traders and investors to visit Kabul and discuss trade and economic problems with Afghan businessmen, asking them to consider Afghanistan as a platform for international markets and not as a national market as Afghanistan was connected with Central Asia and European markets via land routes, railways lines and air corridors.

No joint statement was issued at the conclusion of Ghani’s visit, but the visit was a major development as it marks the revival of high-level exchanges.

Ghani said he had refused to visit Pakistan over the past two years, but had paid the visit after a ‘Loya Jirga’ or grand assembly asked him to do so.

Ghani sees “strong inter-dependencies” between Pakistan and Taliban

President Ghani called for the need to recognise strong inter-dependencies between the Taliban and Pakistan to help end decades of hostilities in his country.

The statement by the Afghan leader marks a significant departure from Kabul’s traditional stance that Islamabad severe ties with the Taliban and to expel them from Pakistan.

Speaking at a seminar in Islamabad on Thursday, President Ghani had indirectly recognised that Pakistan was moving away from that policies of the past to good policies.

“Pakistan has an important role and that there are strong inter-dependencies between Taliban and Pakistan. We need to recognize this and to arrive at programmatic approaches to move from conflict to cooperation,” the Afghan president told a gathering at the state-owned Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad ((ISSI) on Thursday.

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