Hillary Clinton Lands Rare Trade Deal Between Pakistan, Afghanistan
July 19, 2010
(ChattahBox)— As soon as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in Islamabad over the weekend, she was rewarded with the signing of an historic trade agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan that signals the beginning of a new relationship between the two neighboring countries. The agreement opening up trade routes, also indicates a thaw in the the frosty relations between Islamabad and Washington over the Pakistan government’s failure to do enough to expel Taliban insurgents from its country. Clinton did not arrive in Pakistan empty handed. She comes bearing gifts in the form of $500 million in economic aide to improve the public infrastructure of the poor country.
The agreement will curb smuggling, open up trade routes and aid both countries economically, according to the report in The New York Times:
“A critical provision of the deal would allow Afghan trucks to carry goods to Pakistani ports like Karachi or as far as Indian border posts, while Pakistani trucks could travel into Afghanistan. Under current law, goods must be reloaded at the border.”
“The accord cast a positive glow over Mrs. Clinton’s visit, which is meant to ease suspicions between Pakistan and the United States. She came with a number of initiatives in public health, water distribution and agriculture, to be financed by $500 million in American economic aid.”
State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley hailed the agreement in glowing Biden-esque terms.
“This is a big deal,” said Crowley. “It will help both countries grow their economies and this gives both governments a powerful tool in gaining the support of their people and reducing the appeal of the insurgencies that each face.”
The easing of relations between Kabul and Islamabad is also part of a larger U.S. strategy in the region, to encourage the two countries to combine forces to fight Taliban insurgents.
“The agreement reflects a gradual warming in ties between leaders in Kabul and Islamabad, who until recently had viewed each other with suspicion. Islamabad has been particularly wary of Karzai’s government because of the growing influence in Afghanistan of Pakistan’s nuclear archrival, India.”
The trade agreement must still be ratified by the Afghan Parliament and there are rumblings domestically in Pakistan opposing it, but the accord is a considerable achievement considering the two countries have been working in fits and starts, on a trade deal since the 60s.