Lahore - British Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Owen Jenkins called on Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Sartaj Aziz here on Monday.

Both sides discussed issues of bilateral interest, mutual cooperation and situation of peace, security and economic condition in Pakistan and Afghanistan. British High Commissioner Thomas Drew and other senior officials of the High Commission also accompanied Jenkins.

Aziz informed the delegation about government’s concerted efforts to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan.

He maintained that the government of Pakistan has always attached great importance to its relations with Afghanistan since peace and stability in Afghanistan is not only in the best interest of Afghanistan but it also directly affects the domestic security in Pakistan.

Therefore, Pakistan has always endeavoured to remain engaged and constructively participated in all initiatives and forums for promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan, said Aziz.

The two sides discussed bilateral relations, trade, and transit, which is very significant for both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Aziz said that Pakistan had recently improved its infrastructure in Chaman and Balochistan, which would further ease the trading opportunities between the two countries.

Afghanistan is an important importer of medicine, food construction material, and manufacturing equipment from Pakistan via transit trade facility. The people to people contact strengthens economic relations, he said. 

Aziz also said that improved security and peace conditions, significant economic progress and stability in Pakistan had paved the way for local and foreign investors which was a welcome sign to help the government pay more focus on human development, fight poverty and work for the well-being of the common man. Referring to the year 2013, when the incumbent government had taken the charge, he said: “We were facing serious security challenges and GDP growth rate was at 3 percent at that time. The government during the last four years focused on financial discipline and improvement of the economy through improved security situation, as a result, Pakistan was able to achieve the growth rate at 5.3 per cent, which is the highest one during the last 10 years”. 

Aziz further said that investment of 46 billion dollars under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework in energy and infrastructure sectors was another milestone which had changed country’s perception from security State to the investment destination.

“The CPEC would enable Pakistan to overcome energy crisis. Construction of the new roads and new rail links will improve communication not only within Pakistan but also in the whole region paving the way for inter and intra-regional trade. Pakistan, which was facing acute energy shortage, is now coming out of the energy crisis and thereby inviting the international community to bring more investment in different sectors. In the next phase of CPEC, Pakistan will establish industrial and trade zones that would further revive industry and help the country to cope with the challenge of unemployment and turn Pakistan into manufacturing hub. Furthermore, boost up in the industrial sector would result into significant increase in export and ultimately overcome the trade deficit,” Aziz said. 

He stressed that political stability and continuity of policies had a major role in ensuring the economic stability.

He said that Pakistan Vision 2025 and the SDGs agenda offer strategy of inclusiveness.

Aziz also said that the agriculture sector contributes a significant amount to GDP and employment, he said.

“Pakistan is competitive in citrus fruit, mangoes, apricots, peaches, olives, fish and fish products. Moreover, these products have the potential to attract significant demand. The government of Pakistan is concentrating to improve its agricultural policies,” he said. 

Jenkins reaffirmed his country’s continued support to Pakistan.

He stressed on expansion in bilateral relations and assured Islamabad of the British future cooperation in different areas.

Jenkins also maintained that the UK appreciates Pakistan’s efforts for maintaining peace with Afghanistan and in the region.