KHYBER AGENCY - Extra restrictions, imposed by Pakistan on Afghan businessmen have not only affected bilateral trade ties between the two neighbouring countries but also compelled the Afghan importers to seek other alternative markets to meet their needs, a business leader said.

For sustainable peace in erstwhile Fata districts, economic improvement is necessary, said former president of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce and Industry and chairman of FBR Tax Committee to Afghanistan Zahidullah Shinwari.

He was expressing his views in a meet the press programme held at Landi Kotal Press Club on Sunday. He said that on dictation of America, a trade agreement was signed in 2010 between Pakistan and Afghanistan without consultation of stakeholders that badly affected the trade of both the countries.

As per the truce, he maintained, five expensive and time consuming securities were set for the Afghan traders who used to import through transit trade via Pakistan that disheartened Afghan traders and they sought other alternative roots and in protest the Afghan businessmen ignored Pak commodities and started importing goods from other countries.

That’s why Pakistan that was on top of list of importers for Afghanistan slipped to 3rd number; similarly, Afghanistan that was 3rd largest exporter country for Pakistan after America and European Union downed to 5th number, he added.

“Ironically Pak trade with neighbouring countries is fixed by political ties and therefore when political relations are cordial, business with the countries boost and vice-versa,” Shinwari opined.

If the government was sincere to flourish trade activities in the province and elsewhere in the country, it should give up all unnecessary restrictions and granted free trade country status to Afghanistan, he remarked.

He expressed his dissatisfaction over the prevailing poor economic condition in tribal districts and said huge unemployment led the youth community to anti-social activities so the incumbent government needed to launch a massive economic improvement scheme at grossroots level to raise living standard of the residents of the area.

He added that erstwhile Fata was neglected in China Pakistan Economic Corridor, however, a mega project under the name of Khyber Pass Economic Corridor with financial assistance of World Bank was under consideration to be established in tribal belt that would bring positive change in the area.