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Face Gold import ban or Document the Business

Islamabad: The commerce ministry officials on Wednesday told a Senate panel that if the entire gold business in the country was documented, the ban on its import could be lifted.

The Senate Standing Committee on Commerce, which was held under the chairmanship of PTI Senator Zeeshan Khanzada, was further told that the main obstacle in the import of gold in the country was that the entire business was undocumented.

Federal Commerce Secretary Muhammad Sualeh Ahmad Faruqi told the panel that the country could not import gold as per law and it was an issue that only the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) could resolve.

PTI Senator Fida Muhammad maintained that the SBP was not allowing the import of gold because of the declining foreign reserves.

The ministry’s officials said the import of gold was allowed in 2013 that resulted in its export hitting $1 billion. However, they added that during this period, the import of gold had declined to $350 million.

The commerce secretary told the Senate panel that Pakistan had signed a transit trade deal with Uzbekistan. He added that a similar agreement would be inked with Tajikistan by the end of the day.

The secretary further told the committee that an understanding had been reached with Kazakhstan for a transit trade deal and it would be signed soon. The official said the transit trade with Central Asian nations would take place through Afghanistan, Iran and China.

He added that transit trade through Iran could take place using trains provided that the Railways infrastructure was upgraded for this purpose.

PPP Senator Palwasha Mohammad Zai Khan inquired whether or not transit trade possible through Afghanistan in the prevailing situation, wherein the neighbouring country was under the rule of the Afghan Taliban.

On Sunday, six civilians embraced martyrdom and over two dozen sustained injuries when Afghan forces fired rockets into the Pakistani territory from across the Chaman border in a major escalation in tensions between the two neighbours since the Taliban’s return to power in Kabul.

The incident came at a time when the relationship between Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban government is already tense because of a resurgence of terrorist attacks. Pakistan says the interim government was not taking action against the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its affiliates.

Since the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021, Pakistan has seen 51% more attacks.

The commerce secretary replied that trade was a path to peace and there was no other option. He added that transit trade would also take place through Iran and China.

The panel’s chairman noted that the Afghan Taliban had never prevented Pakistan from using their territory for trade.

Senator Fida Muhammad maintained that India was creating problems for Pakistan in Afghanistan.

He added that the country should make efforts to boost trade with Afghanistan and Central Asian countries.

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