The Prime Minister of Pakistan (PM) Imran Khan, while speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the two-day seminar, Pakistan-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Forum 2020, affirmed Pakistan’s assistance in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Islamabad has shown this by taking practical steps time and again. Pakistan knows it better than any other country that a stable Afghanistan means a stable Pakistan. Therefore, our government has always extended its support to Afghanistan in gaining stability, both economic and security-related.

Besides, PM Khan’s remark that enhanced trade between the two neighbours is the only way forward to achieve prosperity is not a novel idea. Many countries, especially neighbouring states in different continents, have reaped the fruits of engaging in bilateral trade. These countries not only prospered economically, but they also succeeded in sorting out their territorial disputes. Islamabad and Kabul can also secure these two objectives provided the business between them increases. The ongoing seminar can open new vistas of bilateral cooperation. Such avenues can encourage other countries, especially the Central Asian Republics (CARs), to join the Pakistan-Afghanistan commercial setup.

However, in the short term, Pakistan needs to focus on the ground realities in Afghanistan that are under rapid transition. The policymakers in Islamabad must adopt a new rational approach and deliberate on such investment opportunities that can benefit us the most. Also, given the fact that we have lost 50 percent of our trade with Kabul, our authorities must think of out-of-the-box solutions to bolster our exports share in Afghanistan’s markets. Afghanistan, a landlocked country, is the natural extension of our domestic market. Enhanced trade with Kabul can earn significant revenue for Pakistan. Similarly, if Afghanistan achieves normalcy, trading with Pakistan, which has the flagship project of One Belt One Road (OBOR), i.e., China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), can offer it enormous economic dividends.