- Pak-Afghan trade, US-Taliban talks and no jihad export
It was a sensible step to open 24/7 trade services across the Torkham border. A number of factors have reduced trade with Afghanistan from $2.6 billion in 2010-11, to $1.4 billion in 2018-19. This, despite Afghanistan being the only country with which Pakistan enjoyed a trade surplus. Frequent closure of the border by Pakistan on account of terror attacks has been an important factor in the trade shrinkage This has harmed the country economically while it has increased Afghanistan’s reliance on India and Iran. Hopefully Prime Minister Imran Khan will ensure that actions of the sort do not take place.
One would readily agree with Mr Khan that peace in Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s own interest, as he said during his address there. He has also underlined the need for resumption of the suspended talks between the US and Afghan Talban. As Pakistan had worked hard to bring the two sides together, the PM promised to take up the issue with US President Donald Trump.
Mr Khan promised to present the Kashmir case in the Ubited Nations General Assembly ‘like no one ever did before’. One will have to till September27 wait to pass a judgment on his performance. Despite pressures from certain countries he still calls the BJP a party of the extremists and racists who are unwilling to allow religious, linguistic or cultural minorities to maintain their identities.
The PM needs to be reminded that the Kashmiris’ struggle climaxed when Article 370 was still in force. Ever since Sheikh Abdullah reached an understanding with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, successive governments in IOK bartered away most of the region’s special rights for personal gains. The Kashmiris now want nothing short of an exercise of the right of self-determination under UN supervision.
Mr Khan is spot on when he says those in Pakistan wanting to go and fight in occupied Valley will do great injustice to Kashmiris and harm Pakistan as this will provide the Modi government a pretext to blame Pakistan for infiltrating terrorists. The PM needs however to rein in his KP CM who advocated jihad in Kashmir in a number of speeches delivered last month promising not only to ‘conquer’ IOK but also start marching towards Delhi if directed by the PM.