Afghanistan has warned it will stop trucks carrying cargo from Pakistan from entering its territory from January 20 if Islamabad does not permit Afghan trucks to go up to the Wagah land border crossing with India.
Pakistani officials had agreed during a transit and trade cooperation conference held recently in Islamabad that Afghan trucks would be allowed to travel directly to the Wagah border and Karachi sea port after January 20.
However, 500 containers with Afghan goods were currently held up in Pakistan, said Musafer Qoqandi, spokesman of the Afghan Ministry of Commerce and Industries.
If Pakistan does not allow commercial vehicles from Afghanistan to pass directly to the Wagah crossing by January 20, the Afghan government will begin stopping Pakistani trucks from passing through its borders, the ministry said.
"Pakistan officials have promised to let Afghan trucks go to Wagah port after January 20. Otherwise, (the) Afghan government does not have any other way but to give a similar response," Qoqandi was quoted as saying by Tolo News, a leading Afghan channel.
Documentation issues, high fees and increased cost of Pakistani transit vehicles are among the problems that have stopped Afghan exporters from taking advantage of trade routes in Pakistan, officials said.
"We have said this several times that Pakistan is not committed to its promises and even after the president's talks with their officials, Pakistanis still do not stand on their promises," said Atiqullah Nasrat, Chairman of the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries Board.
The Afghan officials pointed out that huge amounts of Pakistani goods are transported through Afghanistan to Central Asian countries every day.
Transit trade between the two countries is governed by the Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement that came into force in June 2011. The pact, brokered by the US, allows Afghan trucks to carry goods up to the Wagah border crossing. However, Afghan trucks are barred from carrying Indian exports on their return journey from Wagah.
Pakistan recently refused to allow Afghanistan to transport its goods up to the Wagah border with India, claiming this was not permitted under the bilateral transit trade pact.