Pak-US Business Council demands direct market access to US markets

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LAHORE: Pak-US Business Council Founder Chairman Iftikhar Ali Malik on Tuesday said that Pakistan now demands immediate direct access to US markets and not aid as it has suffered colossal financial loss for playing the frontline role in the war on terror and US must support Pakistan to achieve its economic prosperity and self-reliance.

In a statement issued here today, he said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s tour to Pakistan would help reduce tension besides agreeing on promoting durable peace in the region and fostering trade between US and Pakistan.  He said joint efforts are needed to further cement the existing economic ties between Pakistan and US private sector. He added that Pakistan and the US are enjoying an amicable relationship and are coalition partners against the war on terror.

Iftikhar Ali Malik who is also United Business Group (UBG) chairman demanded that the US should provide direct access to Pakistani products in its markets, at zero duty. He said that the US president Donald Trump should announce packages of incentives for the quick revival of the Pakistani economy as the country has also suffered trillions of dollars losses in the war against terror.

He said Pakistan was emerging as a fast developing and modern republic in South Asia. He urged Pakistani-American businessmen to avail immense business potential in Pakistan as well.

“Pakistan and the United States have been close allies in the fight against terrorism, which is a common threat to all nations of the world, adding, he said as a matter of policy Pakistan does not allow the use of its territory against any country. Instead of relying on the false narrative of safe havens, the US needs to work sincerely with Pakistan to stamp out the menace of terrorism,” he added.

He further said that the Trump-led US administrations should recognise the sacrifices rendering to eradicate terrorism in Pakistan as Pakistan is bearing irrecoverable loss due to its involvement in the war on terror.

He further said Pakistan desires peace and stability in Afghanistan as peace in Kabul is good for the entire region. But the veteran trade leader Iftikhar Ali Malik stressed that after 16 years of conflict, it is clear that lasting peace in Afghanistan can only be achieved through a comprehensive political process. “Pakistan stands ready to work with Afghanistan and the United States till the end,” he said.

Iftikhar emphasised that Pakistan has always preferred to resolve all issues peacefully. He said that both India and Afghanistan have given their point of views. It is a matter of few days that Pakistan’s aid may be stopped, decreased or conditions are revised, adding, he said that India may increase diplomatic pressure on Pakistan as a result of the new policy.

UBG chief said that all political parties should set aside their political differences for the sake of the country and sit down to evolve a joint strategy to tackle US-India diplomatic pressure. He said the United States also has no choice but to use Pakistani roads to resupply its troops in landlocked Afghanistan. “If Pakistan becomes an active foe, it could further destabilise Afghanistan and endanger US soldiers,” he further said, Pakistan should negotiate with the US keeping Pakistan’s interests on top of agenda.

However, he suggested the United States and Pakistan should expand cooperation on the 2013 Joint Action Plan on Trade and Investment as the United States remains Pakistan’s largest bilateral export market and a significant source of foreign direct investment. He said the United States is Pakistan’s largest bilateral trading partner. He said it would be in the interest of both the countries to enhance their trade volume which had been hovering around $ 5 billion for the last five years.

“We must recognise that there are no military solutions to these long wars, and policy clarity, regional cooperation and a strategic consensus is critical to preserving key rights gains made in many parts of Afghanistan. Pakistan has invested more than any country in the stability and peace in Afghanistan, especially given our long border and history of traffic and refugee hosting, so a more constructive path is better advised for all those committed to the same goals,” he concluded.