Peshawar: 19 May: The two day national conference on ``Pak Afghan Transit Trade its Dynamics, Challenges and Prospects`` concluded in University of Peshawar with the joint resolve from analysts on both sides of the divide to adopt a policy of normal trading relationship among themselves and all the neighboring countries for economic prosperity in the region.
Speakers on the second day of the conference were of the consensus that trade (be that transit trade) between neighbors is integral to normalize tension among regional countries and to make it hub of economic activities. They said that if any country is interested in keeping an enemy it must be across the ocean and not within neighbors. They added that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the transit trade agreement with Afghanistan as per the Geneva Convention. The fact of the matter is that it is the violation in the trade agreement which has made things worse on both sides. The analysts showed astonishment that one lac fifty thousand ISAF forces and the same number of Pak Army coupled with three lac Afghan army helped by good number of local law enforcement agencies have not been able to control the cross border smuggling of the transit goods. This they said clearly reveals that some government functionaries and politicians are not interested in stopping it, because of their own direct material benefit.
The chief guest of the closing ceremony was Consulate General of Afghanistan Muhammad Ibrahim Khel while senior journalist and analyst Rahimullah Yusafzai was the guest of honor. Prominent speakers of the second day included Dr. Maqsood ul Hassan Noori, Acting President Islamabad Policy Research Institute, Prof. Dr. Muhammad Ijaz Butt of Government Post Graduate College Lahore and others.
Dr. Waqar of Institute of Management Sciences Peshawar delivered presentation on Transit trade or a smuggling bonanza. He said that there are one hundred and forty one passing points on the Pak Afghan border and one hundred and thirty three bara markets in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA. These markets have around ten thousand shops where trading of illegal non custom paid products are done without any check. He revealed that if FBR is given a free hand most of the (Parliamentarians) cars outside the parliament would be taken into custody. Dr. Waqar stressed the need for installation of scanners on border check points, installation of heavy presses, implementation of lump sum tax and operation in the Bara Markets as the ultimate remedy to get control on cross border smugglings which is currently damaging the local industry.
Most of the transit trade products and goods are lying at the Karachi and Port Qasim for months, said Consulate General of Afghanistan Syed Muhammad Ibrahim Khel. He added that most of the time due to shipment delays the cost of rent on the transit goods exceeds the actual price of the product which is something very concerning for us as Afghans. He requested the Government of Pakistan to allow timely supply of goods to Afghanistan after its thorough checking. Seven lac books which are to be provided to the Afghan students for the new academic year are lying stranded at Karachi port which must be allowed to supply at the earliest, the Consulate General maintained.
Mr. Syed Muhammad Ibrahim Khel said that three decades of war has badly affected the basic infrastructure of Afghanistan. The neighboring countries especially Pakistan must join hands with us to help rebuilding Afghanistan and its return to normalcy. He added that a good number of Pakistani workers are employed in Afghanistan and getting good cash reward in return as well. Afghanistan has untapped natural resources worth trillions of dollars and Pakistani investors must come up to establish ventures in Afghanistan, the Afghan Consulate General said.
Afghanistan is a big market for Pakistani goods and services, said senior journalist and specialist on Afghan issues Mr. Rahimullah Yusafzai. He added that we cannot stop transit trade, but check must be maintained on the supply of products which are not under demand in Afghanistan. He said that weak border management and weak governance are the short comings due to which we suffer on all the borders.
Vice Chancellor University of Peshawar Prof. Dr. Qibla Ayaz thanked the speakers and organizer of the conference Prof. Dr. A_Z Hilali for thought provoking discussions in the conference. He said that currently University of Peshawar is host to one hundred and five Afghan students who are charged fee at par with Pakistani students and not as foreigners. He added that UoP would extend all the possible support to Afghan students in the future as well.