Muhammad Shoaib Khan
Pakistan and Afghanistan are among each other’s largest trading partners. Though an agreement was signed in the past to strengthen trade relations and facilitate Afghan transit trade through Pakistan, implementation has been mixed, with many on both sides of the border complaining of continued barriers to exchange. Both nations need to improve trade facilitation through streamlined payment settlements and improved insurance mechanisms, the use of bonded carriers, visa issuance, trade financing, tax collection, and documentation.
Both Pakistan and Afghanistan face significant challenges in their respective security, political, and economic realms over the coming years. The drawdown of NATO forces from Afghanistan has dealt a negative shock to both economies, particularly in the transportation sector. Peaceful economic cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan and improved trade and transit facilities could help connect South Asia with Central Asia. Both nations need to improve trade facilitation through streamlined payment settlement and improved insurance mechanisms, use of bonded carriers, visa issuance, trade financing, tax collection, and documentation.
After the Afghan war, Pakistan recognized the Taliban government as it was the voice of the Afghan people. Later, after the 9/11 attack in the US, former US President George Bush wages war against Afghanistan, claiming that the Twin Tower attack was planned within Afghan territory. The US justified their invasion on Afghan soil and termed it as ‘War on Terror’ in which NATO and western countries supported the US stance. Due to this attack, the Afghan community was displaced internally and sought refuge in other countries.
At that time, Pakistan helped the Afghan people by opening its borders to facilitate Afghanis on a humanitarian basis. Even then, the Afghan government did not recognize this humane act of Pakistan. Pakistan also suffered from the war on terror because of the shared border. Afghanistan is a pivotal part of South Asia, considered the ‘Heart of Asia,’ so its stability and peace are essential to Asia and Pakistan.
However, now both countries should figure out that external forces are hiding behind the curtain and trying to destabilize the friendly relations between the two neighboring states. Afghanistan is recognizing Pakistan’s efforts to maintain peace within their territory and obliged to facilitate their refugees within Pakistan for almost the last two decades. Now Pakistan is trying to utilize every diplomatic forum for Afghan Taliban recognition and forming an inclusive government in Afghanistan. As once the Afghan government will be recognized internationally then it will bring prosperity to the region and a better trade environment will be there for local traders and the business community
This will help overcome the humanitarian and economic crisis that Afghans face nowadays. UN also appreciated Pakistan’s efforts in this regard. At last, everyone knows that Afghanistan needs Pakistan’s help and support to resolve its crisis, and for this purpose, Afghans have to ignore the role of spoilers to lead towards prosperity. After Kabul fell in 2021 and the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban took over the Afghan government, which is not recognized by the international community so far. On the other hand, Pakistan facilitated the Afghan peace process between the US and the Afghan Taliban held in Doha.
Now, Pakistan is helping Afghan people in several domains and providing scholarships to almost 4000 Afghan students, Pakistan has constructed Rehman Baba School and Hostel in Kabul, Allama Iqbal Faculty of Arts at Kabul University, Sir Syed Science Block at Nangarhar University Jalalabad and Liaqat Ali Khan Engineering Block at Balkh University in Mazar-e-Sharif. Pakistan is also providing fully-funded scholarships to Afghan students and has pledged US $2 million for Afghan students to pursue business management degrees. Pakistan is also assisting Afghanistan in capacity building in the fields of agriculture, banking, railways, military, and diplomacy. On a number of occasions Pakistan government-initiated capacity-building projects for Afghan healthcare professionals.
The two countries have substantial trade linkages. Pakistan is Afghanistan ‘s largest trade partner. According to Afghanistan Central Statics Organization, Pak- Afghan bilateral trade remained the highest and reached US$ 1,437 million. Pakistan and Afghanistan have formed institutional mechanisms in trade and economic cooperation and set up authorities like Afghanistan Pakistan transit trade cooperation authority, Pak Afghan joint chamber of commerce & industry, Pakistan Afghanistan joint business council joint economic commission, and Afghan-Pakistan action plan for peace and solidarity
The writer is a political and media analyst who writes on international political issues