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(Last Updated On: July 28, 2023)

Pakistan and Afghanistan would have to resolve their problems themselves, especially trade issues. International community and regional powers want to keep the two neighboring countries engaged in minor issues while the policymakers of the two countries need to sit together and remove the hurdles in the way of beneficially mutual trade.

This was the crux of the seminar on ‘Pak-Afghan Bilateral Trade Relations’ organized by the Institute of Regional Studies on Wednesday.

Afghan Consul General in Peshawar, Hafiz Mohibullah, was the guest of honor.

IRA Chairman Dr Mohammad Iqbal Khalil, Director Pak-Afghan Chamber Ziaul Haq Sarhadi, member of the chamber Shahid Hussain and a columnist Alamgir Afridi spoke at the event.

The speakers said that certain elements want to create and maintain tension between the two countries.

They said the leadership of the two Muslim countries should work out a solution to the economic challenges faced by them.

Hafiz Mohibullah said that instead of looking to others, the two countries would have to solve their political and economic problems themselves.

He said during America’s 20-year occupation of the country, the US and NATO could not establish a single institution or hospital in Afghanistan. Also, he added, the US and NATO failed to take any steps for the economic betterment of Afghanistan.

“All that the US and NATO did in Afghanistan during their stay was to spread destruction. On the other hand the government of Islamic Emirate carried out such projects during its one-year rule in the country which could not be done by the occupation forces and their puppet government(s) during 20 years,” he claimed.

He said the former president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani had control over just one-third of the country, while the Islamic Emirate’s control extended to every nook and corner of the country. The diplomat said the world nations have not yet formally recognised the rule of the Islamic Emirate. But, interestingly they were making various demands to the Taliban government, he added.

About Afghanistan-Pakistan relations, Hafiz Mohibullah said both the countries needed the help and support of each other. The way the people of the two countries supported each other in the past, they should have mutual cooperation for promotion of bilateral trade.

“If they support each other to promote their mutual trade, they would not be in need of looking towards others,” he remarked.

He said that the US and NATO wanted to create problems, but the leadership of the two countries would not allow them to interfere in their affairs. This way they would overcome their economic issues, he said.

Dr Iqbal Khalil said the two countries were connected with each other in all the sectors and their cooperation would result in the development of both the countries. He said that Afghanistan and Pakistan were confronting trade and economic challenges which they should mutually overcome.

The speaker said that despite their important geo-strategic position, the mutual trade between the two countries has decreased instead of showing an increase.

He said that Afghanistan was the major market for trade and industry of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Dr Iqbal Khalil expressed his optimism that peace would be restored in Afghanistan and the government of Islamic Emirate would give a roadmap for trade relations with Pakistan.

Ziaul Haq Sarhadi said the trade volume between Afghanistan and Pakistan during 2022-23 was $968 million, while it was $2.5 billion in 2012.

He said the trade agreement of 1965 between the countries functioned smoothly for 45 years. But in 2010 a new agreement was signed, which was protested by traders and chambers of both the countries. This agreement is not useful and it has become virtually ineffective, he said. This issue needs to be resolved, he added.