Published Date: Apr 13, 2017
ISLAMABAD: Pro-Taliban policies are hindering economic development in Pakistan. The country would have earned more if it had good relations with Afghanistan than it will from the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), said former senator and Awami National Party (ANP) leader Afrasiab Khattak.
During a presentation of the shadow budget for the ANP at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute on Wednesday, Mr Khattak said trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan had been at Rs2.5 billion when Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had visited Pakistan in 2013.
It was then decided that trade between the two countries will be increased to $5 billion during the next five years.
“If we had better relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, we would have reached central Asia and would have been earning a huge income rather than getting loans from China under CPEC,” he said.
“We have to understand that the cold war has ended and there is a need for adopting different policies for addressing economic issues. Our Afghan policy has blocked the way to central Asia,” he added.
ANP leader says Pakistan could earn more from good relations with Afghanistan than what it will from CPEC
He said the National Finance Commission Award, which is announced every five years, was due since 2014.
He urged the government to announce the award immediately and to revise the formula for the distribution of funds.
“The government has made a number of promises which it has not kept. The revenue of the country needs to be increased via direct taxes. For example, property tax should be increased and more so for those living in bigger houses,” he said.
Mr Khattak suggested the provinces should announce an agricultural tax as it is unfair that only the salaried class and industrial sector pay taxes while those who earn huge incomes from agriculture do not.
“Our textile industry has been suffering due to our polices and that it why it has been overtaken by India and Bangladesh. Foreign policy plays an important role in increasing the exports of a country,’ he said.
The former senator said a large number of people were working in the agriculture sector and suggested other aspects of agriculture should also be promoted including poultry and dairy farming as those products can also be exported.
He said steps should be taken for training labour as Indian labour has been replacing that from Pakistan in the Gulf and that skilled workers will also be required for CPEC.
Mr Khattak said there are black patches and economies in the country such as in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (Fata), which the federal government was unwilling to discuss.
“The poverty rate in Fata is 73pc which is why there is so much frustration among the youth. On the other hand, there is a huge economy of drugs, weapons and human trafficking in Fata through which decision makers also make money which is why the issue is not being addressed. The Fata secretariat is not answerable to anyone and the governor also becomes part of the game,” he alleged.
He stressed on the need for investing in the environment.
“Our glaciers are melting and civilisations have been destroyed due to a lack of water in the past. New dams should be constructed and the excuse that foreign companies are only interested in coal based projects is not good enough. How can foreign companies can decide our fate,” he asked.