Thursday October 21, 2021

‘Pakistan should help Afghanistan in trade affairs’

October 11, 2021

Islamabad : Co-president Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI) Khan Jan Alokozai has said that currently when all the international funds allocated to Afghanistan are frozen, Pakistan should help the neighbouring country by continuing to engage in trade with Afghanistan and especially by importing goods from Afghanistan.

Mr Alokozai made these remarks while discussing the situation in Afghanistan, significance of economic connectivity for Afghanistan and Pakistan, the hindrances in trade, and the solutions to the problems faced by traders on both sides in a discussion organised here by Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) for the delegation of Afghan traders invited by CRSS.

This was the first trade delegation from Afghanistan which arrived through the Torkham border after Afghan take-over to try and address the many economic connectivity challenges faced by said traders.

Mr. Alokozai said that trade and economic connectivity is of prime significance for Pakistan and Afghanistan, both countries should work together to eliminate the key challenges faced by traders at the border crossing points. He also briefed the Pakistani stakeholders about the infrastructural weaknesses which led not only to congestion at the Torkham bordered crossing point but also hinder the bilateral and transit trade. He also requested Pakistan for relaxations in the visa regime, especially for traders and medical patients.

Expressing distress over the problems faced by Afghan traders, MNA Yaqoob Sheikh assured the Afghan delegation that Pakistan will stand with their Afghan brothers in this hard time. He emphasised that traders are neutral actors and can play a significant role not only in promoting regional economic connectivity but also in improving the bilateral ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Ajmal Safi, Board Member, Kunar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, feared that State Bank of Pakistan’s rejection of the Electronic Import Form (EIF) will eventually minimise imports from Afghanistan to zero. Elucidating the participants about the factors leading to congestion at border crossing points, he stated that the major reason is poor scanning procedures at the border crossing points due to a small number of scanners. He suggested that scanning capacity should be enhanced and the scanners should be located few kilometres away from the zero point to avoid over-crowding.

Thanking CRSS for inviting the delegation from Afghanistan at such a crucial time, MNA Shandana Gulzar said that the Pakistan government under the leadership of PM Imran Khan wants to have strong relations with Afghanistan, especially in the trade sector. She assured the Afghan delegates that their concerns will be tabled to the Speaker National Assembly, the chair of Pak-Afghan Friendship Group (PAFG), and will be addressed by the relevant authorities at the earliest.

The group concluded the meeting on the point that at this stage, Pakistan should formulate and implement business-friendly policies on an immediate basis while taking into consideration the role of the private sector as enhancing trade is a way to help Afghanistan in these testing times. Improving the flow of trade and promoting economic connectivity is the only way for both the countries to prosper, it observed.