LAHORE - Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Janan-e-Musa Zai has said that Afghanistan will soon establish its Consulate in Lahore to further strengthen bilateral economic relations between the two brotherly Muslim countries.The Afghan Ambassador was talking to LCCI President Engineer Sohail Lashari during a visit to the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Friday.The Ambassador said that Afghanistan government attaches great importance to Pakistan and understands well that the existing volume of two-way trade does not match the huge potential two countries have. He said that the Afghan government was thankful to Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif for giving 2,000 scholarships to Afghan students. He said that the Afghans have great respect for their Pakistani brothers and sisters, therefore, they always prefer to do business with them instead of any third country.He said that there were no two opinions about it that Pakistan was central to Afghanistan’s progress and prosperity. He said that Afghanistan had huge untapped natural resources and a joint venture between businessmen of Pakistan and Afghanistan could pave way for a win-win situation.He said that there were quite a few other sectors including agriculture, health and telecommunication where unmatched opportunities were available for Pakistan.Talking about issuance of visa, the Ambassador said that the Afghan Embassy in Islamabad had been made the process so easy for Pakistani businessmen that they could be given visa in just one day.The Ambassador said that if the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry arranges a business delegation to Afghanistan, the Embassy would ensure that it was accorded official treatment.Speaking on the occasion, LCCI President Engineer Sohail Lashari said that Pakistan and Afghanistan are not only good neighbours but also members of SAARC and OIC. He said that there have been many testing time in history but Pakistan always stood with Afghan brothers. He said that Afghanistan is one of the major trading partners of Pakistan. It has been top exporting market for the Pakistani products, he said.The LCCI President said that it was encouraging to see upward trend in imports from Afghanistan but we must endeavour to open up new avenues for increasing formal channel of trade. Engineer Sohail Lashari said that smuggling has been one of the long standing issues between the two countries. Through plugging smuggling points, we can create opportunity for both the governments to earn greater national exchequer in the form of taxes and duties, he said.Pakistan’s exports to Afghanistan are wheat, soap, tea, footwear, carpets, paper & paperboard, pharmaceutical goods etc. Major imports from Afghanistan to Pakistan are carpets, textile floor covering (knotted) etc, he stated. He stressed the need to diversify trade patterns for the sake of bringing some innovation. The LCCI President said that exchanges of businessmen delegations can produce better results in improving the trade links between the two countries. He said there is a dire need to develop deeper ties between the respective Chambers of Commerce & Industry so that people to people contacts could be built up further.He said that the Afghan Embassy can be an effective player in encouraging Afghan business houses to develop contacts with chambers in Pakistan.This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 22-Feb-2014 here.