President Ghani’s statement about Afghanistan having other options if the “enemies of the country” decided to block trade routes tells us two things about the current status of the Pak-Afghan relationship. One, the simple fact that the President of a formerly friendly country is alluding to Pakistan as an “enemy” is indicative of the Afghan government’s current perception of Pakistan. While Pakistan was not mentioned by name, President Ghani could not have meant this for anyone else. Afghanistan has gotten into the habit of making inflammatory statements against us, possibly as a means to deflect from its own (numerous failings) in matters of governance, but calling Pakistan an enemy is maybe taking things a step too far.

Closing the border entry points along the Durand Line was perhaps an ill-timed move, but a necessary one to remind Afghanistan of its responsibilities to Pakistan as well. If attacks are being carried out from across the border and Afghanistan looks the other way, then closing entry points is a perfectly valid way to get Afghanistan to at least notice that the problem is there.

But instead of looking to resolve outstanding issues, Afghanistan has chosen the path of hostility and President Ghani terming Pakistan an enemy after our Prime Minister ordered the borders with a “brotherly nation” to be opened without a moment’s delay tell us that there is little hope to mend Pak-Afghan ties in the short run.

Secondly, and perhaps more crucially, the statement tells us that Afghanistan is looking to decrease its reliance on Pakistan in matters of trade. Inflammatory statements to please one’s electorate are commonplace; just because President Ghani called us an enemy today does not mean that the two countries must now adopt unmoving stances regarding the other.

While in the past, trade with Pakistan was imperative for Afghanistan to survive, its friendship with India and other factors have led it to seek other avenues, and Iran and China (as President Ghani pointed out) will be perfect replacements. In this, Pakistan suffers the biggest loss. For while closing down the border and limiting movement might or might not have an effect to the volume of cross-border terrorism, a lot of Pakistani exporters rely on the market across the western border to peddle their goods. And this is what the clincher is – security and all other issues aside, Pakistan’s exports will find no better market than the one in Afghanistan. It will take time for the Afghan government to shift the country’s trade avenues, and until then, Pakistan can keep the borders open to retain a hold on Afghanistan’s markets. After all, politics can be trumped by economic concerns.