To increase its volume of trade with India, Afghanistan is keen to make the maximum use of the land and rail routes through Wagah and Attari. “This, however, is only possible if goods from Kabul flow through Pakistan’s territory smoothly to reach India,” said Afghanistan’s Ambassador to India Shaida Mohammad Abdali while addressing entrepreneurs during an interactive session organised by the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) here on Thursday.
The envoy, who also visited the Wagah checkpost and the Attari railway station, was here to get a first-hand information on volume of trade among three countries and for reviving business ties with India through Wagah.
Referring to this 16th century old route that linked Kabul to Amritsar and went up all the way to Kolkata, he expressed his desire of restoring the “old status of this historic trade route.” In this context, he said he will explore the possibility of setting up Afghanistan consulates at Kolkata and Amritsar to give an impetus to trade through Wagah.
Admitting that obstacles occurred in the smooth flow of Afghanistan goods, particularly dry fruits (meant for India), through Pakistan, Abdali said, “We have put forward a proposal before the Pakistani government to ensure smooth flow of our goods to Wagah. I am hopeful Pakistan will consider our proposal.”
He pointed out that there was great scope for boosting trade between India and Afghanistan through not just the land route but also the rail link. I am hopeful that both India and Pakistan would agree to allow us to use the Lahore-Attari rail route for transporting our goods, he added.
He pointed out that currently the volume of trade between India and Afghanistan stood at around $700 million. A large number of Indian goods reach Kabul via Dubai, he pointed out while calling this an expensive affair.
Later, in an informal chat with the media, he said that both India and Afghanistan are keen to make better use of the Wagah land route for trade. However, Pakistan has certain reservations about goods passing through its territory, which hopefully they will overcome, he added.
“The Wagah road and Attari rail route are also important to Afghanistan as it’s in the process of re-building the nation following long years of strife. Heavy machinery, building material and other such Indian items required by Afghanistan will be far easier to move through the land and rail routes than by the sea or air or via Dubai,” he said.