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The dilemma of smuggling

The act of smuggling is violating the law of countries and creating uncertainty in the country trade as well as distorting both the nations’ balance of trade and revenue. But smuggling between the Pakistan and Afghanistan has been a controversial and debatable issue across the Durand Line. This issue has been raised globally across the border like US and Mexico, so they had minimised by bilateral relations and efforts. However, this issue has been deleterious impact on both the countries, inflaming the social and cultural concerns, contributing to the volatile political climate and hindering the economic development.
Historically, the smuggling has been addressed by piecemeal thus ineffective in both states. The first significant step to constraints the smuggling was the 1965 Afghan Transit Trade Agreement (ATTA), which established the border checkpoint at Chaman-Spinboldak and Peshawar-Torkham then linking these transaction routes to Karachi. This agreement has been renegotiated after every five years, to ensure or reduce the smuggling accordingly.
In 1979 the Soviet Union had attacked on Afghanistan that led to surge the refugees seeking in Pakistan. As these refugees were receiving the humanitarian assistance and aid. However, the resumption of smuggling in the 1990s, coinciding with periods of political instability in both countries, highlighted the need for a more comprehensive solution.
The past Taliban government and Pakistan have established a joint economic commission through which the renewed the ATTA and planned the railway network from Spinboldak to Chaman, passing through Kandahar and reaching Waziristan while Pakistan opened the Bank in Kabul. They had focused on to reduce the smuggling indicators.
However, the US invasion of Afghanistan on 11 September 2001. Once again, the Afghans were triggered a mass departure into Pakistan. This uncertainty has been disrupted the border and fuelled the smuggling activities. The Pakistan government has been taking inadequate response to this influx but corruption, complicity of security forces and exacerbated the problem were spreading throughout the region.
Nevertheless, both governments have been signed the bilateral trade agreement to increase the trade from 2$ million to 5$ million. Therefore, they have established the newly Pakistan Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement (PATTA) on October 6, 2010 which was formerly known as ATTA. The agreement also proposes the inclusion of Wagha border as well as allowing the Pakistan struck travelled to the Central Asia. Unfortunately the trade have dropped from 2.5$ million to 1.6$ million.
We have registered some companies then trade have reached to 1.8 million particularly in coal and cereals etc. But Pakistan imports from Afghanistan are increasing to 62.7% and exports to Afghanistan are decreasing to 200%. However, when regress the data from 2001 to 2023, Pakistan exports is increasing by 4.09 ratios to Afghanistan but the Afghanistan exports is increasing by 18.1 ratios to Pakistan.
According to Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) study states that for Pakistan, Afghanistan is an untapped market with the value more than 4$ billion for Pakistan exports. So, there are two main factors that are fuelling the resurgence of the smuggling. The Afghanistan is greatest deficit or dependence on seaports. Therefore, Pakistan have been exploiting the border for their own benefit or interest and the direct payments of smugglers to the security forces, enabling them to operate with impunity.
Afghanistan and Pakistan governments have prioritisation of their own interests over the well-being of their citizens.The people are hampering problems from both sides of the border due to the absence of political dialogue and robust mechanisms to curb smuggling has led to a cycle the failed attempts to resolve this complex issue.
The smuggling will decrease by both governments’ sincerely and consistently effective efforts through the political process for the well-being and safety. When the governments will prioritise the issue through the comprehensive strategy, economic cooperation, law enforcement cooperation, involving the border management and political will, is essential to smush the smuggling networks and restores stability and prosperity to both countries.

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