Pak-Afghan Conference Advocates Business-Friendly Visa Policies for Enhanced Trade
Islamabad: /DNA/ – Robust visa policies for the Pak-Afghan business community and “Business-Friendly” measures will pave the way for enhanced bilateral trade and smuggling prevention, eventually ensuring regional security and prosperity. These recommendations were highlighted by the participants of the 4th Pak-Afghan Tribal Stakeholders Conference, held in Peshawar, Pakistan, convened by the Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS).
According to the statement issued by the CRSS from Islamabad, Tribal leaders from Pakistan and Afghanistan discussed critical issues affecting the bilateral relations between the two neighboring nations. The meeting depicted a spirit of cooperation and dialogue and sought to enhance understanding and collaboration.
A key theme of the meeting was economic cooperation, with discussions centering on trade and infrastructure development. Leaders explored opportunities to bolster economic ties, recognizing the potential for shared prosperity through collaborative projects and initiatives. Afghan participants urged for a more lenient visa policy for Afghan traders, proposing the establishment of a joint mechanism to boost the economy and address security-related issues. The need for streamlined visa procedures, including the initiation of E-Visas or on-arrival visas, was emphasized, while Pakistani delegates advocated for Special Border Passing cards for border communities.
Deep concerns were voiced over the declining trade between both countries, with participants discussing restrictions imposed by the Pakistani government on trade. The meeting called for the removal of all trade restrictions, infrastructure development on both sides of the border to enhance connectivity, and the facilitation of smooth flow of goods and services. The implementation of streamlined customs procedures and the reduction of trade barriers were also highlighted, along with the initiation of bilateral trade agreements for mutual economic benefit.
Both sides affirmed their commitment to promoting peace and building mutual trust. The elders stressed the importance of maintaining open communication channels to effectively address common challenges. Border security took center stage, with participants demanding the strict implementation of security measures and increased collaboration in counter-terrorism activities. Tribal leaders extended their support to both governments in ensuring peace and security in their bordering areas. Pakistan elders urged the Taliban to address the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) issue with firm resolve.
The meeting addressed concerns related to the return of undocumented Afghan refugees, with participants urging the international community to extend aid and facilitation for the dignified return of these individuals. The Afghan leaders requested the Pakistani government for additional time for undocumented Afghan refugees to conclude their affairs in Pakistan before returning to Afghanistan in a dignified manner.
Tribal elders voiced their concerns regardingthe Taliban’s ban on girls’ education, urging Islamic countries, religious scholars, and the international community to engage with them diplomatically and advocate for reconsideration.
The continuous closure of the border and skirmishes among border forces were also highlighted as having a significant impact on trade, economic development, and the daily lives of the local population. Tribal leaders from both sides urged the relevant authorities to abstain from abrupt border closures, citing severe economic losses, particularly for traders dealing in perishable goods like fresh fruits and vegetables.
The issue of weak governance due to smuggling across the border was raised by the Pakistani delegation. Participants called for strict measures to control smuggling, including the illegal trafficking of dollars, humans, wheat, and sugar from Afghanistan to Pakistan.
The meeting concluded with a joint commitment to continued dialogue and cooperation, acknowledging the complexities of regional dynamics, and expressing optimism about working together to overcome challenges. The positive tone set during the meeting highlights the importance of diplomacy and collaboration in fostering stability and prosperity in the region.
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