Speaker National Assembly, Asad Qaiser on Monday said providing optimum facilities to traders and investors of Pakistan and Afghanistan would help ushering a new era of economic development and prosperity in the entire region.

Speaking at the inaugural session of Pakistan Afghanistan Trade and Investment Forum 2020, he asked for constituting a joint front for eliminating illiteracy, poverty and achieving lasting peace and promoting investments in the region.

The only way to enhance bilateral relations was to promote trade, he said adding, leadership of both countries should ensure strong coordination to resolve issues which would help eliminating poverty, developing sector besides creating job opportunities.

In last four months, he said, Pakistan has taken various steps to facilitate Afghan transit trade. On receiving information that more than 11,000 containers was struck in Pakistan, the National Assembly took various steps to make clearance of containers easy and prompt.

Four task forces had been constituted under Parliamentary Friendship Group for resolving issues. Over 20 meetings of the task forces had already been held besides visiting crossing points and ports for making possible prompt clearance of the containers.

Due to prudent measures, he said, right now a container reaches Afghanistan in three days from Karachi port as comparing to 28 days in past. Pakistan was opening three more border crossing points for enhancing bilateral trade.

In July 2020 an average of 350 containers were being cleared at the borders which has enhanced to 1,800 in the month of October 2020.

Bilateral trade has shrunk significantly in past years which dropped further in last few months due to Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2019, the volume of Afghan transit trade from Pakistan was over US $ 5.6 billion. During the same period volume of bilateral trade was US $ 1.3 billion which was very low as compared to US $ 2.5 billion in 2011.

Volume of formal trade between two countries was over US $ 2 billion. Removing impediments in Afghan transit trade would help enhancing investments.

He said Pakistan has opened the crossing points of Angor Adda, Ghulam Khan and Karachi. Important infrastructure was being set up at the crossing points. These points would help enhancing bilateral trade.

The new visa policy speaks volume of the enhanced Pak-Afghan trade. This would help facilitating people of Afghanistan especially Afghan students, businessmen and patients.

Afghan people were being granted six month visa on arrival.

Pakistani Mission has been authorized to issue one year multiple visa and five years business visa for Afghan nationals. Afghan students were being granted visa for their entire academic period.

The seminar would help strengthening diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, he said adding that both countries would facilitate and promote trade through Central Asian states.

He said Pakistan has played vital role in ensuring negotiated settlement of peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan was committed to take ongoing peace process to logical conclusion.

He thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan for showing personal interest in promoting Pakistan Afghanistan relations. Participation of Speaker of the House of the People of Afghanistan (Wolesi Jirga) Mir Rahman Rahmani would help promote trade relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan in future.

The speaker thanked (USAID) PREIA for cooperating in organizing the seminar which help devising a vibrant strategy for promoting trade and investment between the two countries.

Addressing the seminar speaker of the House of the People of Afghanistan (Wolesi Jirga) Mir Rahman Rahmani lauded the role of Pakistan in Afghan peace negotiations.