Sunday January 23, 2022

Pakistan working to increase trade with Afghanistan: envoy

November 19, 2021
Pakistan working to increase trade with Afghanistan: envoy

KABUL: Pakistan’s Ambassador to Kabul, Mansoor Ahmad Khan, has said Islamabad and Kabul have agreed on a joint strategy and mechanism against terrorism, besides setting up working groups on bilateral trade and reduction of taxes, opening Chaman and other border points and promotion of air links. The ambassador was talking to Geo News correspondent Tariq Abul Hassan in the Afghan capital.

Pakistan shares 2,600-km-long border with Afghanistan with Torkham, Chaman, Angor Adda, Ghulam Khan and others which are used for people to people movement as well as for commerce and trade. The ambassador said on the request of the Kabul government, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has announced free movement to Torkham from Afghanistan conditional only with visa, the process of acquiring which is being made simpler. Ambassador Khan said Islamabad is also working to ease medical visas to Afghans, besides devising a provision to document emergency medical movement to those without any travel documents.

Pakistan is already providing visas to thousands of Afghans requiring treatment every month. Pakistan has established three hospitals in Afghanistan and we would like to see more health facilities in the border areas, so the Afghans do not have to travel to Pakistan. Islamabad would soon reopen the Chaman border for people to people movement, transit and commerce, the ambassador said.

Regarding facilities and concessions to facilitate the bilateral trade, the ambassador said Pakistan has abolished 17 per cent tax on import of fruits from Afghanistan, besides doing away with duties on several commodities.

He said a working group would review the scope of trade opportunities and concessions to increase the trade volume to $5 bn-$7 bn from $1.5 bn, the Pakistan’s ambassador said. This would also facilitate establishing trade and transit facilities with the Central Asian States, he said.

We have taken up the issue of cross border terrorism by TTP, Balochistan sub-nationalists and other groups, with the new government in Kabul who have assured us of full cooperation to prevent their territory from being used against Pakistan or any other country. In the last few weeks, following ISIS/Daesh attacks in Afghanistan, the Kabul government has enhanced its counter terrorism actions, he said. Certain security mechanisms have been mutually-agreed upon by both the countries in meetings led by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and further discussions will be held by the working groups. Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to closely coordinate actions and policy framework against ISIS/ Daesh, which is not only a mutual threat but also a serious problem for the regional security, Ambassador Khan said.

On cooperation in aviation, Khan said we have regular flights between the two countries and there is a wide scope for cargo flights. Chairman PIA accompanied the Foreign Minister Qureshi’s delegation to discuss expansion of aviation links and a working group was set up. He said we seek Islamabad-Qandahar-Mazar Sharif-Herat flights besides those originating from Karachi and Lahore as well. This would be very helpful in connecting the entire region under CPEC.