Pak Commerce Ministry links Indo-Afghan transit trade with bilateral talks

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Islamabad, Dec.4 (ANI): In an apparent bid to counter India's stance on resuming bilateral talks, Pakistan Commerce Ministry has linked the issue of providing the land route for trade between India and Afghanistan with the resumption of the composite dialogue.

In a briefing to the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Commerce, Commerce Secretary Salman Ghani said the issue of providing land route to India for its trade with Afghanistan was outside the ministry's jurisdiction.

"It is out of question for us," The Dawn quoted Ghani, as saying.

"The original Afghan Transit Trade Agreement allowed India to export its goods to Afghanistan through Pakistan, an additional clause was inserted after the 1965 Pakistan-India war in the agreement, barring the use of Pakistani territory for Indian exports to Afghanistan," Ghani pointed out.

He said the issue would be discussed during the second round of negotiations between Pakistan and Afghan authorities on December 19.

Commenting on the massive smuggling of goods across the Pakistan, Afghanistan border, Ghani said that such activities could only be checked through proper policy and upgradation of technology.

"Pakistan has forwarded proposals to the Afghan side to equalise duty structure on items that are smuggled back into Pakistan," the commerce secretary informed the NA's standing committee. (ANI)

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