KARACHI: The humiliating treatment meted out to Mr Sartaj Aziz by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Narendra Modi is shocking, to say the least. Mr Ghani conveniently forgot how much Afghanistan owes to Pakistan, which was at the forefront in the fight to oust the Soviet Union from his country — while India supported the Soviet occupation. Pakistan has hosted three million Afghan refugees for over 30 years. Mr Ghani displayed his servitude to Mr Modi by refusing to accept Pakistan’s generous offer of $500 million to help in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, saying that Pakistan should use the money to curb terrorism. What about the Indian aid of one billion dollars to his country? Shouldn’t he have advised the Indian premier to use that money to provide toilets to poor Indians?
The time has come to get tough with Afghanistan. We have a trade transit agreement with that country which is being used to flood Pakistan with goods meant for Afghanistan, causing many of our industries to collapse and threatening many others with closure. Hosting refugees has resulted in arms and drug smuggling, along with terrorism which has cost the lives of over 50,000 Pakistanis. We should start by revising the Afghan Transit Trade Agreement and impose the same conditions on Afghanistan as India has imposed on Nepal, recovering full custom duty at Indian seaports on all Nepalese imports and refunding the duty amount to Nepal at the end of the financial year. Naturally, Nepalese importers are forced to buy most of their requirements from India, and to import only those goods which are not manufactured in India. We should also arrange for the immediate repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan. Only then will Mr Ashraf Ghani realise how much his country owes to Pakistan.
Shakir Lakhani
Published in The Express Tribune, December 8th, 2016.