India and Afghanistan’s efforts at improved connectivity to circumvent Pakistan are commendable, but concerns remain in their execution. Comment. (150 words)

India and Afghanistan’s efforts at improved connectivity to circumvent Pakistan are commendable, but concerns remain in their execution. Comment. (150 words)

Approach:

  • Introduce with the need for India and Afghanistan to find new trade routes
  • Discuss the connectivity efforts including air freight corridor and chabahar port and highlight issues
  • Conclude appropriately
Model Answer :

Afghanistan had no direct land route to India, and has to pass through Pakistan. There is much interest between India and Afghanistan for greater trade and economic cooperation, but despite the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) of 2010, Pakistan continues to delay/deny truck shipments from Afghanistan to India.

To overcome Pakistan’s obstructionist behaviour to India-Afghanistan trade, the two countries took two major initiatives including linkages via Chabahar port in Iran and the recently launches air freight corridor.

India-Afghanistan air corridor:

  • The two countries launched the India-Afghanistan air freight corridor in June 2017.
  • It is aimed at providing the private sector in Afghanistan with a platform to increase their exports to India.
  • The plan allowed Afghanistan traders to pay what they would have to transport their goods by road and the rest would be paid by the Afghan government.
  • Issues:
  • Though welcomed by the traders, the air corridor has been hit by logistical problems, including shortage of cargo planes, procedural delays caused by lack of adequate cargo screening machines and cold storage facilities at the Afghanistan airport as well as delays in customs clearances in India.

Chabahar port: 

  • The Chabahar port phase I recently inaugurated also marks an important milestone in India-Iran relations and also provides a viable transit corridor to Afghanistan.
  • Issues:
  • The India-Iran-Afghanistan trilateral agreement to develop transit trade has yet to be ratified in Iran. There are delays in developing berths as well as the railway line connecting Chabahar to the Afghan border at Zahedan.

Conclusion:

Eventually, India’s dealings with both Afghanistan and Iran are not just about circumventing Pakistan. They should open up important new connectivity and commerce avenues, as well as develop markets in Central Asia, and through them to Russia and Europe.

Subjects : Editorials