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Pakistan Expects Business Gains From Afghan Upset


Pakistan seemed to have these gains in mind when it became the first country to signal recognition of the new Taliban government in Afghanistan on Friday, hours after the Islamic militia stormed into the capital Kabul, analysts said.

President Burhanuddin Rabbani's ousted government had been an obstacle to Islamabad's dream of opening overland trade routes to Central Asia via Afghanistan, while neighbouring Iran had already built a rail link to serve as a bridge between Central Asia and Europe.

Kabul blocked once-agreed Pakistani plans early this year to repair the war-damaged road and lay a railway line through the Taliban-controlled western Afghanistan to link up with the former Soviet Central Asian republics.

Proposals to use the route through the Rabbani-controlled parts of eastern and northern Afghanistan remained stalled by procedural disputes or factional fighting there.

But with a Taliban government in Kabul, Pakistan can hope to realise its trade dreams soon, according to traders.

If peace is restored in Afghanistan...Pakistan will get a very big market in Afghanistan and Central Asia, the head of Pakistan's national organisation of traders said.

Ilyas Ahmad Bilour, president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) said he did not expect peace there in the near future, however. If peace is restored, Pakistan will get the market with trade in local currency, which will be helpful to our country.

First Published: Mon, September 30 1996. 00:00 IST