KARACHI: Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, visited Islamabad with his delegation comprising Ahmad Zia Masoud, Special Envoy to the president, Mohammad Khan, First Deputy Chief Executive, Mohammad Hanif Atmar, National Security Adviser, Zarar Ahmad Osmani, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal, National Economic Adviser and Acting Minister for Finance, Shakir Kargar, Acting Minister of Commerce and Industries and Khan Jan Alokozai, President Pakistan Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PAJCCI) and leader of business delegation.
During his visit, Dr Ghani also addressed business community of Pakistan at “Pak-Afghan Trade and Investment Forum” organized by Ministry of Commerce – Pakistan and established his vision of enhancing bilateral ties with Pakistan, the most strategic neighbor of Afghanistan.
At the event, Motiwala – Co-President PAJCCI represented the sentiments of business community across the border and reiterated that during couple of years few elements had severely affected the confidence building measures initiated by both the governments for enhancing cordial relationship between the two neighbouring countries. These mainly include weak border management system promoting informal trade, requirement to convert unofficial payments through mainstream channels across the border, political and legal insecurity, lack of tariff parity or rationalization, coordinated investments by India and Iran in Afghanistan in contrast to Pakistan, penetration of India and Turkey as significant trade and development partners in Afghanistan due to trust deficit, lack of confidence and lack of facilitation in context of both transit and trade matters from Pakistan. He established that this calls for an overall re-hauling of the business and economic reforms between the two countries on an urgent basis.
He emphasized greatly on the dire need of tariff rationalization and fiscal reforms to counter parallel trade between the two countries that cannot be otherwise overcome by any other force and proposed to formulate a joint committee for rationalization of duties between the two countries having members of FBR, Commerce and Trade to ensure that tariff disparity is minimized leading to discussions for Free Trade Agreement (FTA). He urged that competitive tariff may be devised to facilitate Pakistani businessmen and traders in effectively countering the challenges faced by them.
He emphasized on the importance of establishing Export Houses for the business and trading community across the border under PAJCCI umbrella, run by professional management with due support from 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. He reiterated the need to revitalize the regional cooperation and welcomed extension of APTTA to Tajikistan and focused that both the governments should ensure that travel modes and visa regime are made competitive to enhance regional integration.
Motiwala 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 established that this visit of President Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is a remarkable initiative and both countries would significantly benefit from such endeavors. Motiwala also proposed that in order to consolidate the shared economic vision between the two countries, President Ghani should induct a Pakistani advisor and in reciprocity Prime Minister Sharif should appoint an Afghani advisor which would in true essence bridge the differences and create an affirming platform.
Ishaq Dar, Finance Minister Pakistan, acknowledged the proposals and affirmed that these issues were also part of the top priority discussion points during his meeting with his counterpart from Afghanistan, Zakhilwal and soon business communities across the border would see implementations in these areas. Dr. Ghani also accredited that advocacy of PAJCCI in this context will soon see the results in terms of major reforms.
PAJCCI’s Pakistan Chapter delegation under the leadership of Mohammad Zubair Motiwala included Engr Daroo Khan, Junaid Esmail Makda, Talat Mahmood, Abdul Qayum Khalil, Mohammad Jawed Bilwani, Ghulam Sarwar Khan Mohmand, Haji Hameedullah, Haji Abdul Qayum & Ziaul Haq Sarhadi. President of KCCI, Iftikhar Ahmed Vohra and Ms. Faiza, Secretary General also accompanied the delegation.
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