ISLAMABAD: The port of Gwadar now plays a new role, facilitating the transit trade for Afghanistan, by providing a most economical trade route for the war-torn nation.
Afghan traders have been using two Pakistani ports – Karachi and Port Qasim in Sindh – for the transit trade, but now the Gwadar port in neighbouring Balochistan provides an additional facility, which is closer to Afghanistan, and moreover, it gives quick clearance of their goods.
The first ship of transit trade for the land-locked country arrived at the Gwadar port recently. Experts in Pakistan believed that the start of Afghan transit trade through Gwadar is a right decision in making the port completely functional to boost regional connectivity and development.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, the chairman of the Pakistan-China Institute, told Xinhua that utilising Gwadar for Afghan transit trade is a positive and potentially historic development as it underlies the significant role that Gwadar will play for regional economic connectivity.
“This also opens up possibilities of Afghanistan joining CPEC [the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor], which would be welcomed both by Pakistan and China,” the senator said.
He said such trade opportunities augur well for Balochistan as well, since it means closer trade routes and commercial integration and cooperation among neighbours, adding that it would also be a plus for the Afghan peace process, which Pakistan and China strongly support.
The Pakistan Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PAJCCI) said the opening of Gwadar port for the Afghan transit trade will create broader economic viability and choices for business communities.
PAJCCI Chairman Zubair Motiwala described the arrival of the first Afghan transit consignment at Gwadar port destined for Afghanistan as a “major breakthrough” and said the Chinese company at Gwadar has also announced incentives for the Afghan traders.
Motiwala told Xinhua that the success of handling bulk cargoes at Gwadar will pave the way for improving congestion problems in other ports like Karachi and will also nourish competitive landscape that would ensure provision of reasonably priced, high quality services to both domestic and international clients in the region.
The Pakistan Embassy in Kabul has said that the arrival of the Afghan transit goods at Gwadar marks the establishment of a new economical trade link between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Xinhua
Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2020.