ISLAMABAD: Trade opportunities between Pakistan and Afghanistan would further increase with the improvement in infrastructure carried out by Pakistan at Chaman and Torkham borders to enhance transit trade facility, the Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, Sartaj Aziz, told British Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Owen Jenkins, in Islamabad on Monday.

Afghanistan is an important importer of medicine, food, construction material and manufacturing equipment from the UK via the transit trade facility.

The two sides discussed issues of bilateral interest, mutual cooperation and situation of peace and security and economic conditions in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Mr Aziz informed the British delegation of the government’s efforts to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.

He said that the government had always attached great importance to its relations with Afghanistan since peace and stability in Afghanistan was in the interest of both countries. Therefore, he said, Pakistan had always endeavoured to remain engaged and constructively participated in all initiatives and forums to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Referring to the year 2013 when the incumbent government had taken the charge, Mr Aziz said the country at that time was facing serious security challenges and the GDP growth rate was three per cent. The government over the last four years, he said, had focused on financial discipline and improved economy through better security steps and this led the country to achieve the growth rate of 5.3 per cent, the highest so far over the last 10 years.

The British Special Representative reaffirmed his country’s continued support to Pakistan and stressed the need for expansion in bilateral relations and assured Islamabad of British cooperation in different fields.

Mr Owen Jenkins also said that UK appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to maintain peace with Afghanistan.

Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2017

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