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Afghan president Ghani warns Pakistan, says open Wagah border or lose transit route to Central Asia

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani on Friday (9 September) warned Islamabad that he would close the Afghan transit route for Pakistani exports to Central Asia if his country’s traders were not allowed to use Lahore’s Wagah border for trade with India.

Speaking during a conference with the UK’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Owen Jenkins in Kabul, Ghani said, “Afghanistan is no more a landlocked country as it has many transit routes for the import and export of goods.” He added that Kabul had always made efforts to boost cooperation in the state and wanted Pakistan and other regional countries to remove all technical problems that prove hindrance in economic development. “Pakistan has always shut its routes on Afghanistan’s fresh fruit, causing loss of millions of dollars to our traders,” the Afghan president said.

The statements came amid ongoing tensions between the two neighbours over several issues including Pakistan’s new mechanism at its Torkham border that necessitates every Afghan to carry passport and visa for crossing the border.

According to reports, Kabul has long been urging Islamabad to permit it to use Wagah border for importing goods at the Indian border town of Attari. However, Pakistan is hesitant to allow because of its bitter relations with India.

“It is offloaded in Wagah and then carried in carts up to Attari and loaded on again. This adds to transportation cost as well as to a significant spoilage,” an Afghan official said.

Meanwhile, the Afghan president also indirectly accused Islamabad for funding terrorism and said, “Support to the terrorist groups is an action contrary to the good neighbourhood and all international norms and action of the neighbouring country is no more acceptable to the people and government of Afghanistan.”

“We will use diplomatic channels to stop all efforts to destabilise Afghanistan through terrorist groups. I want our message should be conveyed to Pakistan,” Ghani was quoted as saying by the Tribune. (Ibtimes)

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