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August 2, 2018
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Pak, Afghan traders welcome Imran’s policy to boost economic ties

National

August 2, 2018

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PESHAWAR: The business community and traders of Pakistan and Afghanistan on Wednesday welcomed the stance of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan, saying the policy he pronounced in his first informal speech to the nation would help ease strained relations between the two countries and revive economic ties.

The mutual trade between the two countries at one stage was fluctuating from $2.5 to $3 billion annual that has now plummeted to mere $500 million. Chairman Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI), Zubair Motiwala told The News they acknowledged Imran Khan's staunch belief in strengthening ties with the neighboring countries, especially with Afghanistan to ease strained relations between the two countries and push for peace and economic talks.

He said the recent pledge of the expected prime minister could be termed as significantly instrumental in strengthening historical ties, particularly in the face of the deteriorating relationship and growing mistrust between the two nations.

Motiwala expressed the belief that Imran's vision of ensuring ease of doing business was highly commendable. However, he said that economic challenges faced by Pakistan, specifically in context of regional trade and economic-friendly policies, constant engagement with private sector stakeholders should be the prime agenda of the PTI-led federal government.

Motiwala urged both the governments to distinguish between business and trade ties from political and military relations. However, the business community leader underlined the need for measures to ensure security in the region that's vital for stability and sustainability of the economies of both the countries.

He said Pak-Afghan trade, both bilateral and transit, needed to be revived through confidence building measures (CBMs) and next federal government should focus on the same. President, PAJCCI, Junaid Makda, also put in trust in Imran Khan's assertions about Pak-Afghan trade and economic potential. He lauded the PTI chief's decision of accepting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's invitation.

The PAJCCI said any meeting between the two leaders would be an ice-breaking that would help revive and strengthen long-standing business ties between both the countries. He also urged the government-in-waiting to facilitate the avenue for holding long pending Afghan Pakistan Transit Trade Committee Agreement (APTTCA) meetings to help resolve issues of the business community across the border.

Junaid said the first meeting of the committee was held in Kabul recently and its framework provided a comprehensive and structured mechanism to enhance engagement between the counterpart institutions of the two countries.

Secretary General, PAJCCI, Faiza, said they were going to request a call-on meeting with Imran Khan to put him in a realistic picture of the region and trade ties with Afghanistan and potentials in this regards.

The joint chamber of the traders of the two countries is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to brief the prime minister in-waiting and his economic team on issues hampering historical ties between two brotherly nations, she said and added that policy advocacy and strategic insight was required to solve these issues.

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