ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that peace in Afghanistan will help promote trade and economic activities in the region, though Islamabad has concerns that India, in order to destabilise Pakistan, can use Afghan land.
Addressing a seminar titled ‘Pakistan-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Forum’ on Monday, the premier reaffirmed Islamabad’s strong resolve to continue to play its role for peace and stability in Afghanistan. Mr Khan said his government had decided to strengthen relations with Afghanistan “no matter who is in power” there.
The two-day seminar has been organised by National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser at a time when trade and political relations between the neighbouring countries have improved recently. Wolesi Jirga (Afghan Parliament) Speaker Mir Rahman Rahmani, heading an Afghan delegation, arrived here on Mr Qaiser’s invitation to attend the seminar.
The PM said his government was making efforts to enhance connections with the business community of Afghanistan in order to benefit from each other’s experience and give impetus to trade and economic relations.
Says CPEC can facilitate both Islamabad, Kabul to become trade hubs
“Future of both countries is dependent upon their unity, mutual trade, and enhanced economic interlinks,” Mr Khan said while highlighting the need to support Afghan traders and investors.
He said both the Muslim countries had vast potential for investment and economic activities, which would bring regional prosperity and development. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan could benefit from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and become hubs of trade and business, he remarked.
Mr Khan made it clear that the Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process was the chief concern of his government and no other country in the world could take credit equal to Pakistan in its efforts to maintain peace in Afghanistan.
Terms Indian govt worst example fascism
Touching on the Kashmir issue, the premier said the incumbent Indian government was the worst example of fascism. While India claimed itself as the world’s biggest democracy its government was bent upon inflicting atrocities and suppression of innocent Kashmiri people, which was the worst example of suppression and barbarity, he said.
He mentioned that his government always raised the Kashmir issue on every regional and international forum and would continue to do it until the resolution of the Kashmir issue as per the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. He remarked that the UN and international organizations, too, had started raising their concerns over the Kashmir issue.
Speaker of Afghan Wolesi Jirga Mir Rahman Rahmani said Afghanistan valued Pakistan’s contributions to the Afghan peace process. He said the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan was deep-rooted in common culture, faith, and values. He stressed the need for enhancing parliamentary contacts between the two countries.
Mr Rahmani applauded the efforts of the Pakistani government to support Afghanistan for bringing peace in Afghanistan. He said there was a need to capitalise on the potential of both countries, as they had vast opportunities for trade and investment. He said that by mutual cooperation, the neighbouring countries could progress and develop together.
While appreciating the steps taken by Pakistan to facilitate Afghan transit trade, which had reduced the time of shipment clearance on the border, Mr Rahmani said opening new border points for trade would facilitate the trade further.
Pakistan’s Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaisar said that 2,640 kilometres Pak-Afghan border was not only the longest border that Pakistan shared with any of its neighbours, but it was also the thread that weaves the two nations into a historic tapestry of “social, cultural, linguistic, economic, religious and fraternal ties”.
He observed that Pakistan and Afghanistan were strategically significant trading partners however, trade between the two countries gradually declined and eliminating trade barriers along with facilitating traders would not only enhance the trade volume between Pakistan and Afghanistan but would also greatly contribute to poverty eradication and social uplift.
Pak-Afghan task force proposed
He proposed the formation of a task force to oversee the terms of negotiation of Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), which was going to expire next year and needed input from parliamentarians and institutional stakeholders from both sides of borders for a comprehensive future trade agreement.
Mr Rahmani expressed the hope that the two-day seminar would go a long way in boosting trade cooperation between Islamabad and Kabul and both sides would be able to build long-lasting mutually beneficial relationships.
Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2020