ISLAMABAD - India has stepped up attempts to squeeze market of Pakistani products in Afghanistan through a number of incentives offered to the Afghan traders.

According to industry sources, India has been providing goods at subsidised rates to capture the market and is providing them with air tickets at a 75pc rebate, which are big attractions for the Afghan traders.

Afghanistan, sources said used to be a growing market for Pakistani products but due to cheaper products from China and India, Pakistan is becoming less attractive in terms of imports.

According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, exports to Afghanistan dropped to $1.271b in the FY2017 from $1.437bn in FY2016.

Exports in the first quarter of 2017-2018 stood at $319 million.

The sources also referred to the decreasing containers’ traffic from Pakistan to Afghanistan.

They said 70,000 goods containers were used to pass through between the two countries which has now dropped to just 7,000, reflecting the change of routes for imported goods to Afghans.

Pakistan was the biggest supplier of shalwar qameez suits to Kabul but that too has changed since both India and China are now supplying readymade suits, which are traditionally Pakistani products.

State Bank’s data showed that the imports from Afghanistan increased to $68m in FY17, compared to $40m in FY16.

Similarly, each year thousands of Afghans used to visit Peshawar for medical treatment but now they prefer India due to cheaper treatment.

Sources further said that Peshawar was the main victim of the declining trade with Afghanistan where people have lost their businesses on a large scale.

Out of 200 flourmills, about 100 have been closed down due to a drastic fall in the export of flour to Afghanistan, he added.