US acknowledges India`s role in Af-Pak deal

The Obama administration has publicly acknowledged the significant role played by India in the signing of the historic transit trade agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Last Updated: Oct 30, 2010, 09:42 AM IST

Washington: The Obama administration has
publicly acknowledged the significant role played by India in
the signing of the historic transit trade agreement between
Afghanistan and Pakistan, which took more than four decades of
painful negotiations between Kabul and Islamabad.

Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
Richard Holbrooke said the US is grateful to India for the key
role played by it, in the absence of which Afghanistan and
Pakistan would not have been able the sign the agreement in
this regard in Kabul a day earlier.

"I`m very grateful to the Indian government for not
interposing any objections to this bilateral trade treaty,"
Holbrooke told reporters at a special State Department
briefing.

The Transit Trade Agreement, signed in Kabul yesterday
by the commerce ministers of the two neighbouring nations,
according to Holbrooke is the most important deal between
Pakistan and Afghanistan since Pakistan`s independence.

"It is more than a trade agreement; it is a political
breakthrough as well, and it represents a move in the
direction of one of the most critical goals that we have in
that region, which is a closer relationship between Pakistan
and Afghanistan," he said.

"The 1965 agreement between India, Pakistan and
Afghanistan did not have adequate implementation machinery and
never really got going. The attempt to negotiate a trilateral
trade agreement was not going to work in the current
environment," Holbrooke said giving an insight into the
process in which he was closely involved.

"We recommended to all three countries that Pakistan
and Afghanistan have a bilateral negotiation with a clear
understanding, which is written into the agreement, that if at
any time India and Pakistan begin to work together towards
their own trade agreements that Afghanistan will be able to
enter those on an equal basis," he said.

"The clause is called the National Treatment Clause.
Some Americans would call it Most Favoured Nation, but National
Treatment is what it`s now called.

“And that was very key and I`m very grateful to the
Indian Government for not interposing any objections to this
bilateral trade treaty and we hope that the Indians and
Pakistan will find a way to join it at their own pace. But we
will leave that to New Delhi and Islamabad to work on,"
Holbrooke said.

PTI