ISLAMABAD, JUNE 23 – While addressing a stakeholders’ consultation session on economic connectivity between Afghanistan and Pakistan, Zubair Motiwala emphasized greatly on the significance of expediting resolution of irritants pertinent to Af-Pak trade and transit regime, if reciprocal resolution to access Central Asian markets is sought by Pakistan.
He was of the opinion that vision of H.E. Prime Minister Pakistan, Imran Khan to support bilateral and transit trade with Afghanistan, especially during challenging times of COVID -19 Pandemic, is highly commendable, however, the bottlenecks and delayed execution of strategies have not only limited reaping of benefits but have further increased the distress across the border.
Motiwala updated Pakistan’s Special Envoy to Afghanistan, honorable Mohammad Sadiq Khan, that despite commitments the speed of clearance, procedural delays, limited working hours, shortage of trackers, load of stuck consignments and increasing cost of doing business in form of detention and demurrages has drained the effect of positive approach and government bodies should immediately review the mechanism for possible improvements. He believed that the appointment of Ambassador Sadiq at such an instrumental position will greatly facilitate the momentum and sought his support in the early resolution of these pending items. He requested that the current issue of shortage of trackers is complemented by the monopoly awarded to one single company, hence, this dependency should be immediately curbed and more players should be brought in for competitive proposition. He also highlighted that 100% scanning requirement is undue and the alternative of “Profiling Mechanism” may be adopted whereby parties with regular and clear history may be exempted from this while only parties with some exceptions may pass through scanning (that too should not exceed 20% as APTTA required 5% only).
Khan Jan Alokozai, Co-Chairman PAJCCI, extended his regards to Government of Pakistan for opening all three borders (Torkham, Chaman and Ghulam Khan) for both transit and trade. He mentioned that decision for allowing exports of Afghanistan recently has been very well received by the business community of Afghanistan. However, he requested intervention from Honorable Mohammad Sadiq to help expedite the movement of the consignments cross border and also to mitigate the hindrances blocking the effective flow of trade and transit.
Junaid Makda, Director PAJCCI, highlighted the immediate need to revisit APTTA and consolidate the same as further delay would cause a significant blow as by July 2020 the agreement would be reaching the finishing line. He further iterated that PAJCCI’s digital platform of Business Portal is an exemplary avenue for businesses to continue their connectivity and dealings amid COVID 19.
The Special Envoy, Ambassador Sadiq assured that the Prime Minister is taking keen interest in not only resolving the pending items, but is also strongly propagating the need to strengthen cross border socioeconomic ties for overall regional stability and prosperity. He acknowledged the issue of tracking devices and assured the private sector of his support in ensuring an immediate resolution. He sought feedback and suggestions of the business community in resolving the core issues and fully endorsed the phenomenon of establishing strong ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan for realizing economic regional integration. He updated of his endeavors in identifying alternative avenues and reflected that the business community across the border will soon be updated on mutually beneficial avenues that the Government is pursuing intently.
In order to materialize the pursued strategies and expediting the resolution of bottlenecks, Chairman PAJCCI requested Ambassador Sadiq and Ambassador Afghanistan Shukrullah Atif Mashal for an immediate meeting in Karachi with DG Transit Trade and Port Authorities in their presence along with private sector, which was acceded.