KARACHI: Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF) on Thursday asked the government to take immediate steps to save economy from Afghan economic downward plunge in the wake of reduced foreign lending. Tensions between two countries will not allow the decision to double bilateral trade between in two years which will hurt plans to explore central Asia and import energy, said PBIF President and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain.
He said that Pakistan and Afghanistan are big trade partners despite difference over issues relating to refugees, smuggling of drugs, arms and other things, supporting militants and way to handle terrorism.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that bilateral trade continue to face problems like lack of insurance facilities, personal security risks, taxation issues, little banking and payment mechanisms, and weak dispute resolution and documentation system.
He said that Afghanistan is the only bridge for Pakistan to reach central Asia offering limitless opportunities. Pakistan exports to Afghanistan comprised 24.4 percent of Kabul’s imports but now it is coming down due to increased interest of Iran and India which can be countered through various steps including a joint economic zone near international border.
Pakistan and Afghanistan have decided to boost bilateral trade by 100 percent to five billion dollars annually for which barriers must be reduced and effective measures to build confidence must be taken by both governments with the consultation of business community.