ISLAMABAD, Jan 4 (Internews):
Pakistan is eyeing to tap a major share in
the reconstruction of Afghanistan, hoping to boost trade and industry in
the years to come.
Official sources said here Friday a top inter-ministerial group has been
constituted to oversee affairs, while private sector business concerns
are being asked to come up with ideas and plans, and proposals are under
consideration to allow more flexible transit facilities for goods needed
for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
"As a first formal step in this connection, we are convening a
conference titled 'Prospects for Pakistan's Trade and Commerce in the
Reconstruction and Development of Afghanistan' on Monday," an official
of the Ministry of Commerce said.
At the meet, senior officials of the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank would also present ideas for
enhancing trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.
According to UNDP estimates, Afghan reconstruction would cost between
$6b and $9b during first five years. The cost could go up as high as
$25b over the next 10 years if the international interest remains
A formal meeting of donors to assess the needs and availability of
resources is due to take place in Tokyo, Japan, later this month. All
the multilateral donors, representatives of the developed world and
other stakeholders in the region, including Pakistan, Iran and China,
The establishment of an interim government led by Hamid Karzai, a
royalist Pashtun leader, and the commitment shown by the world to help
poor Afghans out of the years of civil war and poverty, have brightened
possibilities of a mega plan.
Initial estimates of what it will cost to begin the reconstruction of
Afghanistan over the next two and a half years range from $3b, according
to an early version of a joint United Nations Development
Programme-World Bank-Asian Development Bank preliminary needs
According to the latest report of the Bank, the quick-impact programmes
to meet short-term priority needs for Afghanistan could enable the
enrolment of 1.5m children in primary school in the next two years.
Pakistan reckons that it has a major role in the future of Afghanistan.
Being a generous host of 3m Afghan refugees since 1979, it could help in
the reconstruction efforts, say officials here.
Though the strong presence of the Northern Alliance in Kabul had raised
some concerns for Islamabad, its relations with all other Afghan groups,
including Uzbek warlord Dostum, Hazara leader Ismail Khan and the
majority Pashtun population still provide Islamabad powerful friends in
Then the fact that the landlocked Afghanistan is dependent on transit
trade route from Pakistan guarantees that the Afghans would continue to
rely on Pakistan for their business and trade with the outside world.
The Ministry of Commerce is also reviewing a proposal to allow trade of
all those items on zero-rated tax that are needed for reconstruction
efforts. The government has recently also offered $100m to Afghanistan,
as seed money for the reconstruction. -Internews