March 02, 2020: SAARC Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CCI) president-designate Iftikhar Ali Malik Monday welcoming the signing of the historic US-Taliban peace agreement termed it not only an important step in achieving a lasting political settlement in Afghanistan but also contribution to achieving stability and prosperity in the region and the world.
In his statement issued here Monday, he said that Pakistan has been playing a positive role for peace in the region and across the world and Prime Minister Imran Khan’s narrative of a peaceful solution to Afghan conflict has won laurels.
He also called for the promotion of strong cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. He also urged the top leadership of either country to remove non-tariff barriers (NTBs) and other obstacles to trade.
Iftikhar Ali Malik said that Pakistan’s private sector always attached great importance to trade with Afghanistan and remained willing to promote trade relations through lawful channels. “If proposed energy connectivity projects, such as the CASA-1000 transmission line and the TAPI gas pipeline, are executed, they will usher an era of development, progress and economic benefits to both countries,” he added.
He said Afghanistan and Pakistan had a long tradition of interactions, as they were good trading partners. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as part of the wider Belt and Road Initiative, would be extended to Central Asia via Afghanistan, he said. “If we look at the CPEC, it has four main components: Transit and trade, infrastructure, energy cooperation and economic integration. Afghanistan can be helpful from all these components.” He said Central Asia has emerged as a Trans-Eurasia land bridge, and oil and gas pipelines are linking our markets with the rest of the world,” he observed.
Iftikhar Malik said that South Asia is mired in several crisis and conflicts at the moment due to various unresolved political and geographical factors and all these issues would be resolved effectively through strong regional connectivity and business to business contacts.
He emphasizing the importance of empowering the economy in the rural areas of the countries said that the economic progress should filter down to the village level and touch the community at all levels.
He considered it important to enhance Pakistan’s exports, for which the government needed to reduce the cost of doing business so that the country’s products could remain competitive in the global market.
Iftikhar Malik said “Our country has tremendous potential and we possess enormous talent,” he said. “What we need is the consistency of government policies and a clear road map to move forward.” The business leader was of the view that all sectors including the industrial sector should meet their national obligation and play due role in strengthening the economy while the government should introduce reforms and control smuggling of raw material and finished goods.