Trade is only remedy for Afghan economy
AFGHANISTAN is known to world as graveyard of world empires. Many countries of the world had tried to capture the territory of Afghanistan, but couldn’t succeed.
The recent rise of Taliban in Kabul has brought difficulties for masses. International community, due to stereotype policies of Afghan Taliban, is reluctant to extend de-jure recognition to Taliban.
The world is putting some substantial demands before Taliban before getting global recognition.
Pakistan is also there in the middle and helping Afghanistan. Where the world community at large is disregarding the well-being of Afghan masses during these difficult times, Pakistan is at the forefront to look after its brethren in Afghanistan.
The war in Afghanistan continues destroying lives, due to the direct consequences of violence and the war-induced breakdown of public health, security, and infrastructure.
Prior wars and civil conflict in the country have made Afghan society extremely vulnerable to indirect effects of the current war.
Those war effects include elevated rates of disease due to lack of clean drinking water, malnutrition, and reduced access to health care.
Nearly every factor associated with premature death — poverty, malnutrition, poor sanitation, lack of access to health care, environmental degradation — is exacerbated by the current war.
Taliban’s government is relying more on country’s natural resources like coal and agriculture to meet the economic challenges.
Pakistan exports to Afghanistan have fallen and imports sharply increased in current financial year, leading to a bilateral trade balance for the first time in favour of its neighbour at this crucial juncture.
Pakistan announced trade-related concessions for landlocked country to help overcome deteriorating humanitarian/economic crisis.
Since Aug 2022, Pakistan exports to Afghanistan have dropped to USD 700 million from USD 900 million last year, whereas, imports from Afghanistan increased to USD 700 million from USD 500 million last year.
The change is attributed mainly to increase purchases of Afghan coal by Pakistan. Pakistan and Afghanistan are naturally agrarian countries, having immense trade potential.
Dry fruits, fresh fruits, vegetables and good quality cotton are most important sectors of Afghan agricultural activity, providing a good source of livelihood for millions of farmers.
Pakistan is top buyer of these items from Afghanistan and can enhance imports in order to benefit brothers.
The trade between both countries is carried out through five fully operated border crossings and Pakistan currently is working to establish new border openings with Afghanistan to increase trade further.
Afghans and Pakistanis are brothers. They share religion, ethnicity, language and culture.
Pakistan is at the forefront to look after its brothers in Afghanistan, when the world community is disregarding the well-being of Afghan masses during these testing times on the pretext of certain difference with Taliban.
Likewise, Pakistan has facilitated Afghan people who wish to come to Pakistan during the chaotic withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
Pakistan accepted Afghan people open heartedly and provided shelters and other basic facilities.
To highlight that international community must be cognizant of the fact that trade with Afghanistan is an immediate remedy to take the country out of current financial crisis.
Pakistan and Afghanistan being brothers and neighbours are strengthening their mutual trade.
The bilateral trade volume between two nations is increasing extensively, which is good omen for the future of economic ties.
Preferential trade agreement between the two countries will improve the access of Afghan goods to the Pakistani market.
The agreement should include a clear action plan to rationalize tariffs and eliminate double taxation in the region to facilitate investment in both countries.
—The writer is Islamabad expert of strategic affairs.