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Monday, May 11, 2009

AfPak deal: Pak needs to 'exploit' geographical importance

AfPak deal: Pak needs to 'exploit' geographical importance
Friday, May 8, 2009 18:35 IST

The blocking of Indian trade to Afghanistan by Pakistan, pending the resolution of the Kashmir issue, made the transit trade route an instrument of leverage for Islamabad, the Daily Times newspaper said in its editorial titled "A welcome new trade route".
However, Pakistan "began to lose importance when first Iran allowed its port Bandar Abbas to be used for goods meant for Afghanistan" and "India and Iran got together to build the Chabahar port in Iran linked to Afghanistan through a jointly built Delaram-Zaranj road," the editorial noted.
"If you don't exploit your geopolitical importance by allowing trade routes, new trade routes tend to by-pass you," the editorial warned, adding that giving India the right to use Pakistan's territory for goods going to Afghanistan will "effectively undermine the importance of the alternative Chabahar route".
The influential Dawn newspaper in its editorial said that "Wednesday's accord doesn't mention India by name, but it is obvious that the intended agreement seeks to provide a trade corridor for Indian goods to Afghanistan through this country."
Noting that "Pakistan and India have a history", the Dawn said "no agreement signed under pressure can be seen in isolation from the reality of all that has happened in South Asia since independence".
"If America is interested in seeing a lasting regional peace, it should be cognisant of Pakistan's security concerns. It is unrealistic to assume that the MoU will automatically pass muster with the security establishment even if it makes no public show of disapproval," it said.
If the US administration wants cooperation to grow among SAARC states, "it must first try to resolve Indo-Pakistan differences instead of expecting Islamabad alone to show goodwill," it added.
The editorial noted that as recently as December, India and Pakistan "were close to war" following the Mumbai terror attacks. It also noted that India "is accused of using its presence in Afghanistan for negative purposes and Pakistani officials have gone public with their view that New Delhi is helping insurgents in Balochistan."
"Seen side by side, one is unsettled by America's anxiety to help India entrench itself deeply in Afghanistan and pursue aims that have nothing to do with the war on terror. There is no dearth of statements from American officials, especially Richard Holbrooke, about giving India a major role in Afghanistan, even though the two are not neighbours," the Dawn said.
"This means that either the Americans are naïve enough to buy the Indian line that New Delhi's interests in Afghanistan are altruistic, or Washington knows what India is up to but looks the other way."
The News said in its editorial that US president Barack Obama had spoken in "positive terms of a joint commitment to combat terror" after his meetings with the Pakistani and Afghan presidents.
The signing of transit trade MoU was also cited as a success but Pakistan would have to watch which way "the winds in Washington actually blow and are they preparing to whip up a storm at some point in the not too distant future."
In its editorial, the Business Recorder said "clubbing Pakistan together with Afghanistan and India is unrealistic and unworkable" as most Pakistanis believe there is a "foreign hand" behind most of the turmoil in their country.
The Nation daily noted in its editorial that the US administration had kept up its pressure on Pakistan to tackle the Taliban and ensure the security of its nuclear arsenal.
"In return Washington succeeded in getting Pakistan to sign an MoU to discuss allowing Afghanistan to use the land route with India for trade, a demand that both Kabul and New Delhi have failed to get accepted for the last four decades," it added.
The Post newspaper noted in its editorial that the beginning of transit trade can prove to be a major step in improving relations between Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, whose ties "are marred by a trust deficit".

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