The news that Pakistan has lost 50 % of its trade in Afghan markets is another failure of our government. The loss is a result of frequent changes in federal government policies. Islamabad’s greater focus on security is another reason for the significant decline in the trade. Finding the vacuum that Pakistan created, Iran, India, and China are now catering the needs of Afghan population thus increasing their trade volume with the country.

Pakistan, instead of using the trade as a tool of enhancing cooperation relied on trade as an instrument of foreign policy. It was, thus, only natural for Afghanistan to find other states that can meet the demands of the local market. What else explains this decline and which areas bear the negative costs along with India’s heavy subsidies on trade items for Afghanistan? Differential treatment by Pakistani authorities, longer clearance time at the port, high demurrage charges, and issues related to transit guarantees in Pakistan are some factors which make transit via Iran more attractive. The traders and businessmen from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Baluchistan suffer the most because of the arbitrary policies of Islamabad.

The bitter reality is that despite all the agreements signed between the two countries have failed to enhance bilateral trade relations between the two nations. To put it bluntly, Islamabad did not pursue trade as a tool for improving bilateral ties. Plus, border closures on Pakistan’s side have become a norm, which in turn leave adverse effects on business of Pakistani exporters.

The shrinking trade between the two nations does not affect Afghanistan as much as it affects Pakistani business community. Pakistan needs to revive its trade relations with Afghanistan on urgent basis. Failure to do so would bring our trade (KP’s) with Afghanistan to zero as Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industries (SCCI) President Zahidullah Shinwari warned while talking to media a few days ago.