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Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has called for enhancing Pak-Afghan bilateral trade and extending the trilateral transit trade agreement to Tajikistan for the economic betterment of the people of the region.



He was addressing the inaugural session of the 9th Session of Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Economic Commission in Kabul on Sunday. The Session was Co-chaired by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and his Afghan counterpart Dr. Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal.



Finance Minister also stressed for early completion of Pakistan funded on-going projects in Afghanistan‚ visa facilitation for Pakistani businessmen and labour and urgent finalization of Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan.



He said Pakistan attaches utmost significance to its relations with Afghanistan‚ which is one of the most important neighbours of Pakistan.



He said that Pakistan had been playing active role in the social and economic development of Afghanistan. In this regard‚ the Government of Pakistan had undertaken a number of projects including the 400 beds Jinnah Hospital in Kabul‚ 200 beds hospital in Logar‚ Liaquat Ali Khan Engineering University Balkh‚ Rehman Baba School and Hostel for 1500 children in Kabul‚ Nishtar Kidney Hospital in Jalalabad and the dual carriage way from Torkham to Jalalabad.



Besides‚ the Prime Minister has increased the development fund from 385 million to 500 million dollars as a gesture of goodwill to Afghanistan so as to complete the on-going development projects in Afghanistan.



Ishaq Dar said in order to encourage and improve bilateral trade and road connectivity; Pakistan is committed to construct Peshawar-Jalalabad Motorway as well as Peshawar-Jalalabad Railway link which would tremendously benefit the traders of Pakistan‚ Afghanistan and the Central Asian States. He said that these steps were a manifestation of importance being attached by Pakistan to its brotherly country.



The Finance Minister also highlighted the achievements made by the government‚ during the last eight months. He said that the present government had developed a road-map to overcome the security‚ economic and energy challenges being confronted by Pakistan. He stated that Pakistan had fixed a GDP growth target of 4-5% during the next financial year taking it to 6-7% in the medium term. He stated that Pakistan had embarked upon a major reform programme that aims at fiscal stabilization‚ mobilizing domestic resources‚ phasing out subsides‚ restructuring the power sector and other public sector enterprises and strengthening the social safety nets. He said granting of GSP Plus status to Pakistan by the European Union is the manifestation of the trust over the socio-economic policies of Pakistan.



Addressing the session‚ Afghan Finance Minister Dr. Hazrat Omar Zakhailwal underscored the need for enhanced trade and economic relations for the mutual benefits of the two countries. He also appreciated Pakistan's role and efforts in the reconstruction and rebuilding of Afghanistan particularly‚ the development of social infrastructure.



The meeting approved the agenda of the 9th Joint Economic Commission (JEC). Thereafter‚ technical experts from both the sides discussed issues threadbare under respective committees. The 9th JEC Session will conclude tomorrow in Kabul.



Later‚ the Finance Minister along with his Afghan counterpart visited Jalalabad and handed over Nangarhar Nishtar Kidney Hospital to Afghan government constructed by Pakistan at a cost of about 7.5 million dollars.



Ishaq Dar also inaugurated the commencement of work on the 75 km dual carriage way from Torkham to Jalalabad.


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