National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser has said that promotion of trade and economic links between Pakistan and Afghanistan would usher into new era of socioeconomic development and fighting the scourges of poverty and instability. The speaker said that early conclusion of trade agreements between Pakistan and Afghanistan would further boost economic activity on both sides. The speaker said this while talking to Mr. Nisar Ahmad Ghoryani, Afghan minister for commerce and industries, who called on the speaker in Parliament House. While talking to the Afghan minister, Asad Qaiser observed that Pakistan and Afghanistan are strategically significant trading partners however, trade between the two countries gradually declined due to trade barriers and lack of trade facilitations from either side. He said that after eliminating trade barriers along with facilitating traders had not only enhanced the trade volume between Pakistan and Afghanistan but was also greatly contributing to poverty eradication and social uplift. He said that such initiatives will also increase employment opportunities for our people and decreasing non-tariff barriers on both sides of the border will enhance mutual trade. He informed that encouraging people to people contacts and trade facilitation through Pakistan-Afghanistan Parliamentary Friendship Group was a “manifestation of our commitment to improving bilateral economic engagement with Afghanistan”. The speaker said that early conclusion of negotiation of Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) and Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) would open new avenues of cooperation between both brotherly countries. He stressed the need for including the elements in the trade agreements which are facilitative of trade. He said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a game-changer not only for Pakistan but the entire region. He offered Afghan investors to take part in CPEC economic activity besides investment in Rasakai Special Economic Zone to start its functions soon. The Speaker remarked that economic cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan and improved trade and transit facilities would help to connect Central Asia and beyond. He proposed establishment of Border entry point for trade at WaKhan border which would open gates to Central Asia. He also asked the Afghan minister to take note for removal of unnecessary check points inside Afghanistan and extortion of money from trades by Afghan officials. Speaking about the fraternal relations, the Speaker said that same thread weaves our two nations into a historic tapestry of social, cultural, linguistic, economic, religious and fraternal ties. He said that Pakistan’s reiterates its support for Afghan peace process and Intra-Afghan negotiations for an enduring peace in Afghanistan and the region. He said that Pakistan always desires of harmonious relations with its neighbors, however, our eastern neighbor had always attempted to destabilize Pakistan. He said that illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir and atrocities being committed on innocent Kashmiri were sheer violation of norms of humanity and international law. The Afghan Minister Nisar Ahmad Ghoryani said that Afghanistan was deeply touched by the goodwill gestures by the government and people of Pakistan. He said that people across the borders have multiple affinities which tie them with each other. He praised Speaker Asad Qaiser for his role in mounting strong linkages for mutually beneficial trade relations with Afghanistan. He said that Afghanistan acknowledges Pakistan’s support for Afghan peace process and would seek support in future too. He said that Trade and Investment Forum Seminar in October this year was a success and suggested for holding of such moots in Peshawar, Quetta and other provincial capitals of Pakistan. Apprising the Speaker, the Minister informed that 80 percent negotiations on the Trade agreements have been done and was confident that the same would be signed soon. He said that his government is committed to boost trade cooperation for a long-lasting mutually beneficial relationship. He welcomed the offer of Speaker for participation in CPEC and Rasakia Economic Zone. He said that issues raised by Speaker would be addressed on his return back home.