ISLAMABAD - PM Raja Pervez Ashraf has directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman to keep open the Custom Facilitation Posts at Pak-Afghan border seven days a week including Sundays to facilitate transportation of goods between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Prime Minister was told that this step would increase bilateral trade between the two countries by 12 to 13 per cent and also reduce the cost of freight as the same transport would now be able to apply for another day.
The Prime Minister also directed the Ministry of Interior to exempt Afghanistan businessmen traveling to Pakistan on valid visa from the provision of Police inquiry.
The Prime Minister said that Pakistan and Afghanistan are brotherly and neighbourly countries. He said “Pakistan and Afghanistan are important and indispensable for each other”.
The Prime Minister praised PACJCCI for bringing businessmen of both the countries together and using its good offices for resolving issues for better trade relations between the two countries. Trade, the Prime Minister said, has an important role in fostering relations between the two countries. He expressed the hope that trade between the two countries would further enhance the existing relations between the two countries.
In response to a complaint by Afghan businesspersons that 3000 Afghan containers were stuck up at the Karachi seaport, the Prime Minister expressed concern over their detention and directed Chairman Federal Board of Revenue to sit with the Afghan side and release the containers within ten days. He also directed the FBR to devise a fool proof mechanism to ensure that containers are cleared in future promptly so that genuine trade was not affected. The PM assured the Afghan businessmen that the government would extend them all possible facilities. He, however, urged both Pakistanis and Afghans businesspersons to discourage smuggling, so that it benefits business.
The Prime Minister also appreciated the proposal of setting up special economic zone on Pakistan’s side near the Afghan border for manufacturing of goods and their export to Afghanistan. Also, he assured the delegation to improve the condition of Quetta-Chaman Road. The Prime Minister urged private sector of both the countries to prepare a proposal for establishing a dry port as well as running train services for transportation of goods between the two countries. Earlier, Muhammad Zubair Motiwala, Khan Jan Alokozai, president and co-president of PAJCCI, briefed the Prime Minister about the organization as well as the issues and problems being faced by businesspersons of both the countries. Zubair Motiwala briefed the Prime Minister about the establishment of PAJCCI. He said it is a historical milestone as it has opened up doors for other regional countries to join this forum. Turkey has shown interest in engaging itself with PAJCCI in a tri-lateral arrangement and Tajikistan is also interested in a similar arranged, he added.
Motiwala apprised the Prime Minister that the present volume of trade between the two countries was nearly Rs 2.5 billion, which had even more potential.
He also drew the attention of the Prime Minister for rationalisation of tariff to reduce smuggling, constitution of a mechanism for mediation of disputes, inclusion of representative of PAJCCI in bilateral talks, establishment of special economic zone at Pak-Afghan border and improvement in the condition of Quetta-Chaman Road.
Those who attended the meting included Minister of State for Commerce Abbas Khan Afridi, Secretaries Commerce and Interior, FBR chairman and senior officials.