ISLAMABAD: National Assembly (NA) Speaker Asad Qaisar has said that promotion of trade and economic links between Pakistan and Afghanistan would usher in a new era of socio-economic development and help bring people of the two countries closer.
Addressing the Pakistan-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Forum 2020 here on Monday, the NA speaker said that the 2,640 kilometres Pak-Afghan border is not only the longest border that Pakistan shares with any of its neighbouring country, it is also the thread which weaves the two nations into a historic tapestry of social, cultural, linguistic, economic, religious and fraternal ties.
Calling for building a united front against the biggest scourges of the time, especially, poverty and instability, Qaiser said that Pakistan values the common bond that binds Pakistan and Afghanistan together and it is important for the leadership of two sides to create harmony, develop understanding and build consensus amongst ourselves to seek solutions to common problems.
He observed that Pakistan and Afghanistan are 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.
“Such initiatives will also increase employment opportunities for our people and decreasing non-tariff barriers on both sides of the border will enhance mutual trade,” Qaisar said.
He pointed out that establishment of Pakistan-Afghanistan Parliamentary Friendship Group (PAPFG) and its task forces for encouraging people-to-people contact and facilitating bilateral and transit trade is a manifestation of Pakistan’s commitment to improving bilateral economic engagement with Afghanistan.
He proposed the formation of a task force to oversee the terms of negotiation of Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), which is going to expire in 2021, saying there is a need to take input from parliamentarians and institutional stakeholders from both sides of borders for a comprehensive future trade agreement.
Qaisar reiterated Pakistan’s commitment in terms of promoting parliamentary diplomacy and said that the country is ready to play its role in mounting strong linkages for mutually beneficial trade relations with Afghanistan.
Addressing the ceremony, Speaker Wolsi Jirga of the Afghan Parliament Mir Rehman Rehmani applauded the efforts of the Pakistani government to support Afghanistan for bringing peace in Afghanistan.
The Afghan Speaker said that Afghanistan highly values its ties with Pakistan as both countries enjoy shared religious and cultural values and Afghanistan is proud of its close relations with Pakistan.
Rehmani remarked that there is a need to capitalise on the potential of both countries as both have vast opportunities for trade and investment.
He said that both the countries can progress and develop together by mutual cooperation and appreciated the steps taken by Pakistan government to facilitate the Afghan transit trade as now it takes three days in the clearance of a container on the border, adding that opening new border points for the trade would further facilitate the traders.