BEIJING: Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to establish markets along the western border areas is an important measure to fully open the border trade with Afghanistan and Iran, said Cheng Xizhong, a visiting professor at Southwest University of Political Science and Law, on Saturday.
He said that the prime minister has directed the concerned authorities to fast-track establishment of markets in the country’s border areas with Afghanistan and Iran, besides formulating a comprehensive strategy for the borders’ economic development.
“With better security situation, the borders will be more opened and the economy will be more active. I believe that the decision of the Pakistani government to establish markets along the western border areas is an important measure to fully open the border trade with Afghanistan and Iran,” he said in a statement.
“This reflects at least three points that Pakistan has made substantial progress in its efforts to improve relations with its western neighbours Afghanistan and Iran over the years, the security situation in the western border areas has been significantly improved by strengthening the fight against terrorism and extremism together with regional countries, and Pakistan is committed to regional connectivity, development and prosperity.”
He also said that the decision to fast-track markets in the border areas was a concrete reflection of the geo-economic strategy of the Imran’s administration and conducive for curbing the commodity smuggling in the border areas, bolstering up the regional economy, creating more employment opportunities for the local people and bringing the prosperity to the people, residing in the border areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
“The people in the border areas of Afghanistan and Iran would also benefit. Over the years, Pakistan has taken a firm stand on the issue of anti-terrorism and implemented a series of security operations in the western border areas to control terrorist activities. The overall security situation has been improved year by year. This has created favourable conditions for the full opening of border trade with Afghanistan and Iran. Pakistan is a peace-loving country and has played a very important role in the process of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan for many years,” he added.
Earlier on Thursday, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had said that Pakistan has played a role of mediator during the peace talks between the Afghan Taliban and the United States, resulting in a landmark deal, signed in Doha in February last year.
According to the deal, United States had committed to reduce the number of its troops in Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s important role in regional security has been fully affirmed by the Biden administration, as Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin had acknowledged on Tuesday that Pakistan holds the role of a critical ally in any peace process in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan has taken positive steps to bring peace to Afghanistan,” Austin had said.