Afghanistan-Pakistan transit trade

Sir: This is with reference to the news item, ‘End to misuse of APTTA’ (Daily Times, June 17, 2011). Something is horribly wrong with this country. The original Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APPTA) stipulated that Afghan importers would submit bank guarantees to the customs to prevent removal and sale of goods in Pakistan before reaching Afghanistan. At the insistence of Afghan importers, the government agreed to replace bank guarantees with insurance guarantees. The article also says that the required infrastructure (weighing, scanning, tracking and monitoring of vehicles) is still not in place although the agreement was signed months ago. I would like to point out that the APPTA is meaningless if containers cannot be monitored or tracked from Pakistani ports to the Pak-Afghan border. As for weighing and scanning of goods, this should have been in place long ago. Are we to infer that containers are not scanned or weighed before leaving our ports? Moreover, since we have to bend over backwards to appease the Afghan importers, would it not be more convenient to hand over our ports to them?

Published in the Daily Times, Thursday, June 23, 2011