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    Landmark Afghan-Pak trade pact goes into effect

    ISLAMABAD(PAN): The much-awaited and historic Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), granting the landlocked country important trade concessions, on Saturday went into effect, officials from both countries said.

    The revised agreement was signed by both countries on Oct. 28, 2010 between Pakistani commerce minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim, who arrived in Kabul that day, and his Afghan counterpart, Dr. Anwarul Haq Ahadi.

    To bring the agreement into effect, a meeting was held in Islamabad on Friday between an Afghan delegation led by Sharifullah Sharify, deputy Afghan commerce minister and Pakistani delegation headed by Zafar Mahmood, Pakistan commerce ministry secretary.

    At the meeting, both sided agreed to the establishment of a joint commission overseeing the implementation of the agreement. The commission would also work to resolve problems the agreement may encounter.

    Pakistancommerce ministry secretary Zafar Mahmood told Pajhwok Afghan News that the joint commission involved 15 members from each country.

    He said they discussed problems which could hinder the implementation of the agreement. “There are some concerns which will be addressed jointly,”

    Mahmood said.

    He said the joint commission would have to face the key issue of preventing goods from their smuggling back into Pakistan.

    Muzamil Shinwari, a member of the Afghan delegation, told Pajhwok Afghan News the biggest challenge for the agreement was customs offices. He said both the countries wanted to address the issue. The joint commission will meet twice a year, he said.

    He said there were some problems in the effectiveness of the pact for which they would seek clarification from Pakistani officials. He did not elaborate.

    The ATTPA is intended to replace a 1965 transit trade agreement, which Afghanistan says does not reflect changes on the ground. Under that agreement, Afghans could export goods only via Pakistan's port city of Karachi.