KARACHI : Chairman PAJCCI acknowledged recent statement of Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan, Dr. Omar Zakhilwal and reiterated that it is a dire need to remove deep-rooted mistrust in Pak-Afghan relationship that is not only hampering political dialogue but also significantly impacting the economic transition between both the countries in specific and regionally in general.
He further offered PAJCCI’s services as a bilateral entity, having its members in both the countries, to act as a joint platform to support overarching objective of peace, prosperity and economic connectivity.
Motiwala elaborated that Pakistan Afghanistan Joint Chamber (PAJCCI), since its inception, has been making all relevant endeavors to improve and stabilize confidence building measures between the two countries and ensuring that business communities across the border attain mutual benefits in terms of trade, transit, security, peace and prosperity. He emphasized that in a recently held “Expo Pakistan” exhibition in Karachi, the Afghanistan delegation (under the leadership of Co-Chairman PAJCCI) was the second largest amongst all the international delegations participating in the event.
It illustrated the invincible bond between the business communities of Pakistan and Afghanistan proving that despite socio-political turmoil across the border, the people-to-people connect is highly commendable. This should be a realization for the government of both the countries that political whims should always follow economic imperatives and not otherwise.
He strongly urged both the governments to segregate business and trade ties from political and military tensions, though, establish strong security measures that are vital for stabilization and sustainability of both the countries without compromising upon the sentiments of the business community across the border.
He emphasized that both the governments should take immediate steps to enhance confidence building measures to revive the peace and economic prosperity between the both countries in order to save the business communities across the border from losing long-term association established since ages. Historically it has been proven that peace follows economic initiatives and not otherwise hence Governments should allow economics to function freely and help politics rather than obstructing the free flow of economic activities.
Nonetheless, recent political turmoil has resulted in permanent, long-term damage to the bilateral and transit trade whereby Pakistan-Afghanistan trade has dropped significantly in the last 2-3 years because of bilateral tension that caused other countries to penetrate in Afghanistan easily, as India has recently acquired a very strong hold both socially and economically in the Afghanistan, causing double damage to the Pakistani economy and neighborly relationship. Additionally the recent figures are showing rise in Afghanistan’s trade with Iran (both transit and bilateral) and a corresponding decline in business with Pakistan due to disturbing political ties accruing since long.
He also added that even though Karachi is the most economical route for Transit Trade for Afghanistan; however, Iran’s facilitation to Afghan businessmen is pulling the business away.
He mentioned that in a recent visit to Afghanistan, General Qamar Bajwa committed arrangement of a meeting of Afghan business community with Prime Minister – Pakistan for resolution of their grievances. Motiwala urged General Bajwa to expedite this initiative and offered services of PAJCCI as a bilateral entity, to act as a joint platform for illustrating the sentiments of business community across the border.
Motiwala recapped that during recent border closure, he led a delegation of private sector representatives from across the border who met Afghan Ambassador to ensure prompt resolution of the matter. The delegation also met National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen (retd) Nasir Janjua, Federal Minister for Trade and Commerce, Khurram Dastagir Khan, Chairman Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly of Pakistan – Mr. Awais Leghari, Chairman Pak-Afghan Parliamentary Friendship Group – Mr. Aftab Sherpao and Commerce Committee of the National Assembly of Pakistan. The resulting border opening has re-established the trust amongst private sector of both the countries hence Motiwala sought Zakhilwal to utilize his good offices further for organizing pending APTTCA meeting for resolving the critical issues associated with transit trade and ensured PAJCCI’s active support from across the border for arranging the said meeting.
He reinforced that PAJCCI as a cross border entity has unanimously developed both short-term and long-term solutions for eradicating the common menace. He enlisted several initiatives taken by PAJCCI in past that has formally aided policy making and arbitration amongst private sector of both the countries and nourished regional integration for mutual benefits. As a long term solution, he emphasized greatly on the dire need of tariff rationalization and fiscal reforms to counter parallel trade between the two countries and urged that in order to protect the rights of trading and business partners across the border, an arbitration clause may be made part of the contractual obligations.
He emphasized on the importance of establishing Export Houses for the business and trading community across the border under PAJCCI’s umbrella, run by professional management with due support from the Governments on both the sides. This concept would eliminate issues related to quality specifications, trust deficit, insurance and payment matters and will build the confidence amongst each other. Additionally, regional integration and common investment opportunities in both countries would be a breakthrough initiative to enhance connectivity in regional business landscape.
Chairman PAJCCI further requested Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan to convene a meeting between private sectors of both the countries for facilitating them in reconnecting with each other and identify common grounds of peace, prosperity and strong economic ties.
Orignally published by NNI