SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Iftikhar Ali Malik on Sunday demanded equal treatment from the US at par with India in exemption from sanctions over Russian trade

Iftikhar Ali Malik, who is also founder and chairman of Pak-US Business Council, in a press statement asked that if US had lifted sanctions from India over Russian trade why Pakistan, an important coalition partner against war on terror, was overlooked? He noted with great concern that the US House of Representatives had passed a legislative amendment that would protect India from punitive sanctions for buying missiles from Russia. He said if India could buy Russian missiles on the so-called pretext of offsetting the looming threat of China’s growing influence in the region, Pakistan should also be allowed to procure Russian defence equipment to strengthen its defence system besides safeguarding its territory from escalating Indian aggression.

He said that despite restrictions, India also imported oil from Russia which surged to a record of around 950,000 barrels per day (bpd) last month as Indian refiners snapped up Russian oil sold at a hefty discount. He said Pakistan offered several sacrifices to confront the menace of terrorism and over 80,000 valiant Pakistani soldiers and civilians laid down their lives answering the call of duty, besides suffering trillions of dollars loss to its infrastructure and collapse of economy in addition to halting direct foreign investments.

Iftikhar Ali Malik urged US President Joe Biden to allow Pakistan zero duty free access to their markets in view of its colossal sacrifices to quell the wave of terror. He said the entire world, including the US widely acknowledged Pakistan’s hectic efforts in combating terrorism.

He hoped that the US leadership will give equal treatment to Pakistan in all perspectives to give peace a chance to prevail in the region besides helping strengthen its fragile economy. He said Pakistan needed trade and investment, not aid. He said it was the cornerstone of Pakistani government’s policy to seek direct foreign investment and trade rather than depending on aid which he added never served purpose since creation of Pakistan.