Stability in Afghanistan to improve Pak-Kazakhstan trade volume: Ambassador

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ISLAMABAD(Parliament Times):: The Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Pakistan Yerzhan Kistafin has expressed the hope that the peace and stability in Afghanistan would strengthen trade ties between Pakistan and Kazakhstan, besides contributing to the economic uplift of Afghanistan as a regional transit hub.This was stated by the Ambassador during his visit to the All Pakistan Business Forum where he held a meeting with APBF President Syed Maaz Mahmood, Chairman Ibrahim Qureshi and general secretary Khurram Niaz.Yerzhan Kistafin pointed out that a number of Pakistan products including fruits, vegetables, pharmaceuticals, surgical instruments and leather goods had a great potential in Kazakhstan. Pakistan and Kazakhstan have great potential to enhance cooperation in many fields and if both countries facilitate their private sectors, the annual bilateral trade volume could surge from the current level to $300-500 million.The current bilateral trade volume of $45 million was hugely low, compared with the real potential of bilateral trade, he said, adding that the alternative route of Karakoram Highway may also be explored for uplifting bilateral trade. However, the Karakorum route becomes inaccessible during the harsh winter season but it can be safely used during the remaining part of the year.The Kazakh ambassador said Kazakhstan is the biggest landlocked country in the world and we understand the importance of regional connectivity. He said Afghanistan could be the most beneficial country if trade increases between Pakistan and Kazakhstan though it. He warned that if stability did not come to Afghanistan, it would have wider regional implications.

Pointing to increased potential of people to people cooperation between Kazakhstan and Pakistan, he said Pakistan Prime Minister discussed bilateral agenda and economic cooperation during meeting with Kazakhstan President in Dushanbe. He said our nations have been cooperating for centuries but nowadays there is less information about the culture and lifestyle of the people of both countries. He said we need to enhance awareness about each other.Speaking on the occasion, APBF President Syed Maaz Mahmood said both countries should focus on establishing air, road and railway links in order to boost two-way trade. Regular exchange of trade delegations and holding single-country exhibitions on a reciprocal basis is necessary to identify new areas of mutual cooperation.Maaz Mahmood recommended that both countries must take initiatives to enhance trade and investments in textile and cotton products, pharmaceuticals, and food items, engineering equipment and machinery, and construction enterprises. Pakistan and Kazakhstan are going to sign three memoranda of understanding for cooperation in the areas of trade and investment, defence and strategic studies, and training in foreign services which needs to be institutionalized as soon as possible.

APBF Chairman Ibrahim Qureshi said there is a paradigm shift in Central Asia to further enhance regional connectivity through greater regional cooperation and socio-economic integration due to which there is an urgent need that both the countries must institutionalize all possible measures to further strengthen their bilateral relations.Ibrahim Qureshi said that the peace in Afghanistan may be a game changer for the rest of the region and may open a new gate of unlimited opportunities of mutual cooperation, coordination and collaboration in diverse fields between the two countries.Syed Maaz Mahmood said the scope and horizon of diplomatic relations between the two countries are diversified and dynamic due to which right from the beginning both the countries have been sharing better political understandings include various official mutual visits of their leadership and cooperation and meaningful coordination within various international organizations i.e. the United Nations (UN), the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA). Moreover, He said that Pakistan also offers the critical over land routes and connectivity for mutually beneficial trade and regional energy cooperation. Whereas Kazakhstan is an integral part of Central Asia Region connected with ancient links with South Asia.