Issue Brief on “India-Afghanistan Air Corridor: Another Attempt to Isolate Pakistan?”

In a recent development and apparent attempt to further marginalize Pakistan, the first air cargo corridor was established between Afghanistan and India in June 2017.[1] An aircraft packed with 60 tons of Afghan plants with medicinal uses marked the opening of the first air cargo corridor between Afghanistan and India on June 19, 2017.[2]

Although the air corridor will help Afghanistan’s economy since Afghan businesses have long wanted to exploit the potential of India’s huge market, this trade route would, in the long run, prove to be more costly and hence, uneconomical. In New Delhi, officials hope the new corridor will increase annual trade between the two countries from $700 million to $1 billion in three years and give a lift to exports of Afghanistan’s agricultural and carpet industries.[3] Currently, the air cargo flights are once in two weeks, but plans are afoot to increase flights to several in a week. Current flights are from Kabul-Delhi and Kandahar-Amritsar, and the next step would be to other centers in Afghanistan like Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif and Jalalabad.[4] Afghanistan is also looking for a special Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with India which will include ‘capacity building, creation of special zones at airports for offloading and on loading all the items that are being imported or exported;’ the MoU is under process and has been given to the Indian government.[5]

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