Significance of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran Border utility


Written on Barrister Sheikh Amir Khan Mandokhail

“I am grateful for inviting us to this Seminar. This Seminar is important for various reasons, as it discusses the academic and political aspect of the cross-border management. Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran are still at early stages of development. Iran is slightly better than the other two countries because it has more natural resources in the form of oil and a better industry than Pakistan and Afghanistan.  In Iran, almost all the products are manufactured domestically which is helping their economy even during the time of international sanctions. Afghanistan has abundant natural resources that can be put to good use and it may be more convenient for Pakistan to purchase it from Afghanistan rather than the global market. An increase in cross-border trade will be beneficial for the economies of all the regional countries. If I may quote the example South Korea, it is leading in the production of semi-conductors which many other major economic powers are unable to compete in this industry due to the lack of human resources and technological capabilities. India is also interested in investing $10 million in this industry and is planning to expand it to $300 million. If they can do it, why should not we?  Pakistan’s economy is based on agriculture while it is moving towards industrialization. Global warming is a major issue for agrarian economies like Pakistan, as evident by the recent floods and heavy rains across the country. I do not have specific figures, but the recent climatic disaster has paralyzed about 50% of the country. Financial losses have been experienced by the people in the country. South Punjab, Cholistan and Balochistan have all been affected by this natural catastrophe. Another aspect of global warming in Pakistan is that our country was once a water surplus country, but it is now a water deficit country. There numerous economic opportunities for both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghanistan’s food security is dependent on Pakistan. Due to delays at the border, the trade of fresh vegetables and coal gets severely affected. Pakistan is being isolated on the world stage. I believe our economy is being negatively impacted as if our decision makers are not aware of it. Economy is a prime need of our national interest, so we must prioritize it. China is investing in almost every part of the world to achieve its desire of becoming a global hegemon. China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is an example.  All these three countries should try to maintain good ties with each other to achieve peace and economic prosperity. If we do not treat our neighbors with dignity and honor, we will not have any friends around. It is important to strengthen our ties with India to have peace and stability in the region. Although we are finally focusing on the cross-border commerce concerns after neglecting them for so long, there is still much to be done in this area.  Our poor infrastructure, roads and railways is a significant barrier of trade in Pakistan. In the past, democratic governments somehow managed to handle this grave issue by building roads and other infrastructure. Pakistan has total of 1,26,000 km roads, of which 1,06,000 km are not paved and 10,000 km are motor ways and highways, making up 3.6% of the total.  Around 60% of trade is conducted on the 1,01,756 km of road infrastructure that runs from north to south across the country. Although there were only 50,000 km of roads in 1947, but the traffic on, roads was just 7 %. Now 96% of traffic is on roads bringing road network under strain. Around 20,000 km of Balochistan’s total 29,000 km of roads are paved. Balochistan makes up 37% of Pakistan’s high-speed road infrastructure, however, when traffic and road density are compared, the province only makes up 0.0 126% of the nation. Additionally, just 43% of Balochistan’s infrastructure has been developed.  Population is sparse as such more than half of Balochistan is deprived of energy. The lack of development in the province had a significant impact on the living standards of the people. The people of the province are dependent on livestock and agriculture. Due to long distances, sparse population, and poor infrastructure, the agriculture products and cattle cannot reach the market on time.  I feel the transportation system also requires improvement. All logistics currently fall under National Logistic Cell (NLC). The NLC is responsible for all vehicle and freight transportation. In addition, our vehicles are subjected to significant tasks, loading, and unloading of the consignments account for 70% of the issues.  The Logistic Performance Index places Pakistan at the 71st number, out of 155 nations. If our country’s transportation system improves, we will generate savings of up to $2.5 million. The NLC must help create policies that will improve trade with the neighboring countries.  I conclude by saying that if the Central Asian Road network is operationalized, it will increase the output of commerce transit by 116%, which will help Pakistan’s economy grow. The path of commerce would also aid in ending poverty. Pakistan must maintain positive relations with its neighbors.”

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