US diplomat claims Pakistan opening border with Afghanistan for Indian trade


United States’ Ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass has said that Pakistan is considering resumption of India-Afghanistan trade via its territory while adding that a political settlement in Afghanistan was in “Pakistan’s long-term interest.”

“Pakistan had already approached Afghanistan earlier this year and indicated its willingness to resume trade between Afghanistan and India through its land,” Bass told The Economic Times in an interview on Saturday.

The US ambassador further revealed that his country is of the opinion that the conflict in Afghanistan is to be resolved politically rather than with the use of military force. “No one in the US government is saying at this point that we expect this conflict to end with a military victory. We believe that this conflict will end with a political settlement,” he said.

The envoy further claimed the Pakistani government had approached Afghanistan after assessing two developments.

“We have seen an increase in exports from Afghanistan to India (through air cargo)… it is obviously one part of the export strategy but it is an important part… and I think part of the reason why, in addition to the economic relationship between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, a couple of months ago for the first time the Pakistani government expressed a willingness to start talking with its Afghan counterparts for parameters to enabling trade between India and Afghanistan through Pakistan,” said Bass.

Furthermore, the US diplomat while revealing that Indian firms had been investing heavily in Afghanistan’s growth said that increased trade, connectivity through Central and South Asia through Afghanistan are all missed opportunities as a result of the prevalence of status quo.

Moreover, the impact of US sanctions on Iran and Chabahar port was discussed when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis visited India earlier last week. “Both US officials stated that the importance of Chabahar as a means to expand bilateral trade and help improve Afghanistan’s connectivity with South Asia,” Bass said.

“My government is still thinking through how Chabahar factors in the reimposition of the toughest sanctions that we believe need to be put in place to hold the Iranian government accountable for its action,” he added.