Are relations between India, Pakistan and Afghanistan set to improve under new PM Imran Khan. In what could be a major development, Pakistan is contemplating giving India a direct land access to Afghanistan which could drastically enhances trade in South and Central Asia. This trilateral deal between India-Pakistan-Afghanistan could also kill the Chabahar port project in Iran.
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Pakistan had approached Afghanistan earlier this year and expressed its eagerness to discuss resumption of trade between Afghanistan and India via Pakistan through the land route, United States ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass told Indian Media in an interview.
This can be a massive development for India-Pakistan relations, given that Islamabad for years has blocked Indian goods to be transported to Afghanistan through its territory. Bass said the Pakistani government had approached Afghanistan after looking at two developments. “We have seen an expansion in exports from Afghanistan to India it is unmistakably one part of the export strategy but it is an essential part.
The US ambassador to Afghanistan spoke on the sidelines of the India-Afghanistan Trade and Investment show. He said that Indian firms had been investing in Afghanistan’s expansion and that last year’s trade show in Delhi had led to $27 million of investments at the event itself, and another $200 million of “prospective” investments from Indian organisations.
Bass said a political settlement of Afghanistan was in “Pakistan’s long-term interest”. “Enhanced 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 preserving the status quo,” he said
The envoy acknowledged that the Indian government had brought up the issue of US sanctions on Iran and how it would impact Chabahar port in Iran also effect trade and development in Afghanistan. Bass further said, “We are processing and evaluating how best to reimpose sanctions on Iran. US government is contemplating how to apply hardest possible sanctions ton Iran to hold the Iranian government accountable for its action.