What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Afghan-Pak spillovers, there and back: Flour and refugees

MStFB Spillover Monitor Report Update 12:2
Before hurrying off somewhere, I decided that I still have a few minutes to execute some effort-efficient (but not entirely analysis-free) blogging - I can update various series of posts I've been writing by briefly pointing to some of the news of the previous days.
Last year I've covered the flour crisis in Pakistan. Wheat flour is called atta, which is ironic, given how ATTA is also the abbreviation in use for the Afghan Transit Trade Agreement, which in turn is officially meant to regulate the unregulatable trade crossing the Pashtun-Pashtun border, and unofficially meant to give it a big boost instead. And part of that trade nowadays is the flow of flour/atta to Afghanistan, where conflict premium makes selling profitable. And that of course makes prices rise in Pakistan, too. Wheat prices are moving up on the world market as well, but in Pakistan and Afghanistan the conflict economy is having an impact, too. And, it seems now, some traders in Afghanistan turned out to find it profitable to sell further on to Central Asia even. This flour is, after all, produced with state subsidies in Pakistan, remember.
"Ministry of Commerce on Friday (February 15 - P.M.) disallowed wheat flour exports through private sector to Afghanistan and has notified that wheat flour quantity up to maximum 0.6 million tonnes would be exported to Afghanistan through official channels. In this regard the ministry has issued a notification.
It is worth to mention here that Pakistan normally exports around 0.6 million tonnes of wheat flour to Afghanistan annually. During the wheat flour crisis flourmills were involved in export of wheat flour prepared from subsidised wheat provided by the government subsequently to provide to the local consumers.
The export of wheat flour from Pakistan to Afghanistan crossed well over 0.6 million tonnes and the commodity was being re-exported to Central Asian Republics resulting in shortage of the commodity in the country.
Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet taking serious notice of the situation as first step imposed 35 percent regulatory duty on the export of wheat flour exports and in the second phase it decided to disallow export of wheat flour through private sector."
Else. I've been giving attention to the phenomenon of Pakistani refugees in Afghanistan. The last time I brought up the subject, however, I did so joking about former Marine officer Asad Khan, who ended up in the U.S. as a child, when his family left for the States from Pakistan via Afghanistan, in the 1970s. But the subject is serious, and worth coverage. Here's an excerpt from a more recent report from AP:
"The number of Pakistanis fleeing to eastern Afghanistan to avoid violence in their country has risen to about 10,000 in recent weeks, a U.S. military official said Tuesday.
Commanders had reported last month that the number was only between 300 and 400 families. But Army Col. Jeffery Johnson, the U.S. command surgeon in eastern Afghanistan, said thousands more had crossed over the border and been taken into the health care systems in Khost and Paktika provinces.
"That was really a response to some of the turmoil that was taking place inside of Pakistan and the people there understood that their lives potentially could be better if they were in Afghanistan," Johnson told a Pentagon press conference via video hookup from Afghanistan."
And now I'm off to work.

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