THE Afghan Transit Trade Agreement (ATTA) has run into a stumbling block presented by its American occupiers, and shows the American intentions for the region, with India its local policeman, and the other states of South Asia forming its hinterland. The ATTA is due to expire at the end of the month, and landlocked Afghanistan is insisting, with full US consent, and most probably pressure, that India also be allowed to send goods to Afghanistan overland. Going by the present ATTA, where goods officially destined for Afghanistan are instead smuggled into Pakistan, not only harming local industry, but also evading customs duty, the true destination for most Indian goods would be Pakistan. If indeed Pakistan chose to stop this, not only would it involve an exertion of political will, but it would pose anti-smuggling and policing problems of immense dimensions, which no neighbour of a landlocked state is supposed to bear. This is the future which India has sold to the USA, of goods smuggled into those states that will not accept them. This future is by no means inevitable, with the great powers all getting ready to leave Afghanistan, as the latest meeting of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi with the German special representative showed. The USA would wish to see the entire region under the watchful eye of India, but it also needs Pakistan to ensure an honorable exit from Afghanistan. The ATTA is one means of ensuring that India would remain dominant over Pakistan, with a foothold in both countries after the Western exodus. More important, it would give India a potential stranglehold over the Pakistani economy, which it has been seeking all along. Also, it would mean giving India what it has wanted all along, without it having to solve any of the bilateral disputes it has with Pakistan, including the core issue of Kashmir. The demand for Indian access to Pakistan should not only be resisted, but should also send alarm bells ringing in Islamabad. The West would like to facilitate India for its own reasons, not because it wants to do India or Pakistan any favours, but because it suits its own interests. Therefore Pakistan should not only refuse to accept a disadvantageous ATTA, but also break off ties with the power on whose strength Afghanistan is unfairly trading, not for its own benefit, but for Indias. So long as Pakistan is a participant on the American side in its so-called war on terror, it will find itself constantly driven to accept Indian hegemony, so that the USA can set it up as its regional policeman. Delinking itself from the USA will not only be good preparation for the future, but will also be popular.