Pakistan denies opening Afghan trade route for India
Islamabad, Sep 17: Pakistan has refuted media reports that it has expressed readiness to talk on the restoration of the India-Afghanistan trade route using its land.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi rejected the reports after US Ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass was quoted as saying by an Indian newspaper that Pakistan had approached Afghanistan earlier this year and indicated its willingness to resume trade between Afghanistan and India through its land.
"Pakistan has not agreed to consider Afghanistan-India trade through our land," Qureshi was quoted as saying by the Express Tribune.
Pakistan does not allow India to use the land route for trading with Afghanistan, arguing that "technical and strategic" issues connected to transit trade should be resolved first.
Bass was quoted as saying by the Indian daily that "A couple of months ago, for the first time the Pakistani government expressed a willingness to start talks with its Afghan counterparts for parameters to enabling trade between India and Afghanistan through Pakistan."
Bass reportedly said that a political settlement in Afghanistan was in Pakistan's long-term interest.
"Increased trade in both directions, increased connectivity through central and south Asia through Afghanistan — those are all missed opportunities if Pakistan has its sole focus on perpetuating the status quo,” he said.
The US ambassador said that Indian firms had been investing heavily in Afghanistan's growth. Increased trade, connectivity through Central and South Asia through Afghanistan were all missed opportunities as a result of the prevalence of status quo.