India has urged Pakistan to make it a member in the Afghanistan Pakistan Transit and Trade Agreement (APTTA) that was signed in 2011. This would allow the entry of containers from Afghanistan into Attari through the Wagah border land station.

This will help India expand trade ties with Afghanistan through seamless connectivity and enable New Delhi have a greater say in the trading system of the region.

“Besides, signing the pact will also allow Afghanistan goods to crossover the Wagah land station and enter India through Attari. So we have asked Pakistan to include us as a member in APTTA but they have not yet responded,” a senior official told BusinessLine.

At present, trucks and containers from Afghanistan are not able to send their exports seamlessly to India through the land border. They have to drop the goods, meant for India, at the last checkpoint at the Wagah border which is then picked up by the Indian authorities. But, India is not able to send any goods to Afghanistan, the official said. “Attari is just a few metres away from Wagah, if they can allow the trucks till Wagah, then why not Attari? That way India can also send its exports meant for Afghanistan through the same ICP and save a lot of time and money,” the official added.

While Afghanistan has given its nod to the proposal, Pakistan is yet to respond.

The issue was also raised by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during her recent meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and her Pakistan counterpart Sartaj Aziz.

India is also trying to access Afghanistan by establishing connectivity with Iran through the Chahbahar Port under a trilateral transit arrangement.

India’s shipments to Afghanistan contracted by 11 per cent to $422.56 million last fiscal compared with $474.34 million in 2013-14. Two-way trade between the countries stood at $684.47 million in 2014-15 registering a meagre 0.20-per cent growth from $683.10 million in 2013-14, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.