Pak-UK: Britain appreciates Pakistan’s peace efforts in Afghanistan
ISLAMABAD: British Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Owen Jenkins Pakistan called on the Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Sartaj Aziz here Monday and discussed issues of the bilateral interest, mutual cooperation and situation of peace, security and economic condition in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
They also discussed matters of trade and transit, which are very significant for both Pakistan and AfghanistanBritish High Commissioner Thomas Drew and other senior officials of the High Commission also accompanied Mr Jenkins. Secretary for Planning, Development & Reforms Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, Chief Economist Dr. Nadeem Javaid and Spokesman of the Ministry Mr. Asim Khan also attended the meeting.
The Deputy Chairman Planning Commission 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 affecting the domestic security in Pakistan. Therefore, Pakistan has always endeavored to remain engaged and constructively participate in all initiatives and forums for promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan, said Sartaj Aziz.
Sartaj 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. People to people contact strengthen economic relations.
Sartaj Aziz also said that the 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 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% at that time. The government during the last four years, focused on financial discipline and improvement of economy through improved security situation, as a result, Pakistan was able to achieve the growth rate at 5.3, which is the highest one during the last 10 years”.
Sartaj Aziz further said that investment of $46 billion under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework in energy and infrastructure sectors was another milestone which had changed the country’s perception from security state to the investment destination. The CPEC would enable Pakistan to overcome energy crisis. The construction of the new roads and new rail links will improve communication not only within Pakistan but for the whole region paving 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 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.
Mr. Aziz stressed that political stability and continuity of policies had major role in ensuring the economic stability. He said that Pakistan's vision of 2025 and the SDGs agendas offer strategy of inclusiveness. Mr. Aziz also said that agriculture sector contributes a significant amount to GDP and employment. 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.
Owen Jenkins, reaffirmed his country’s continued support to Pakistan. He stressed on expansion in bilateral relation and assured Islamabad of the British future cooperation in different areas. Owen Jenkins also maintained that UK appreciates Pakistan’s efforts for maintaining peace with Afghanistan and in the region.