Afghanistan is in dire need of humanitarian aid as its economy has been in decline since the Taliban took control of Kabul. The other thing that is causing its economic situation to run out of steam is the non-recognition of the Kabul regime by the international community. Afghanistan is a country of about 39 million people and decades of war have ruined its economic, social and ecological system.
In this situation, humanitarian aid comes from Pakistan, India, Iran, China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Western countries.
Meanwhile, India and Pakistan have been holding talks regarding Indian humanitarian aid to Afghanistan where Islamabad has allowed export from its transit route for Indian wheat to Kabul. Pakistan has ensured that aid and assistance continues to be delivered to Kabul overland through border crossing points.
As of August 2021, Pakistan has increased border crossing facilities to 5 and they are fully operational. According to Pakistani officials, 44 more places on the border have been identified and plan to establish new crossing points to facilitate the movement of businesses and visitors.
Recently, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif approved the transit visa policy for Afghan immigrants. Through this policy, the government of Pakistan would issue 30-day transit visas to Afghan citizens within 24 hours. Meanwhile, a Pakistani Foreign Ministry official said that despite the tightened measures, “about 30,000 people, including Afghan refugees, are crossing the border every day.”
Pakistan helps to have a balance of trade with Afghanistan, so that people who are in dire straits can meet their basic needs including medicine, food and other necessities.
During the first week of June, the Pakistani government said that “in the 11 months of the financial year 2021-2022, Pakistani exports to Afghanistan fell to around $700 million from over $900 million dollars last year, leading to a bilateral trade balance for the first time”. in favor of Kabul”. Meanwhile, imports from Afghanistan have increased to more than $700 million from $550 million last year.
This comes as the Taliban is under sanctions by the United States, so to increase trade, Pakistan has allowed Afghan importers to purchase its products in Pakistani currency and can export any item to Pakistan to facilitate trade bilateral. Due to the unavailability of banking channels, Zubair Motiwala, Chairman of Pakistani Afghan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said in the last week of May that Pakistan had developed a comprehensive barter mechanism and that it would be implemented in the next few days.
As trade needs to be increased by maintaining the economic situation in Afghanistan, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is another opportunity for the two countries to use it for bilateral trade by extending it to Afghanistan. In March 2022, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, during his visit to Kabul, told the Taliban that China was willing to promote the expansion of CPEC to Afghanistan, making it a bridge for connectivity. regional.
In 2010, Pakistan and Afghanistan had signed the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTAT), which expired in February 2021. The two countries had extended it until May 11, 2022 Islamabad and Kabul are planning to revise the APTTA, as Pakistan wanted. include Central Asian states and the former Afghan government wanted India to be part of it. Now, until the revised APTTA is signed, the previous agreement will be in place.
While the global community, especially the United States and Europe, is reluctant to give any legitimization to the Taliban government, and Russia reiterates that inclusive government is key to recognition; the Afghan economy will be in jeopardy. To mitigate the economic impact on Afghans, Pakistan’s two-way trade with Afghanistan is key to at least buoying the neighboring country’s economy.
Pakistan has paid a huge price for Afghanistan’s instability in the form of security, lawlessness, terrorism and diplomatic disputes with the Western world. As Islamabad has repeatedly said that it wants a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, so the economy of both countries must grow, and to this end, bilateral trade can enable the people of both countries to prosper.
Qudrat Ullah is an independent and media activist. He writes on political developments and security issues with a particular focus on South Asia and the region. He can be reached at [email protected]