Trade Suffers As Afghanistan Fails To Keep Torkham Border Open Round The Clock

Trade Suffers As Afghanistan Fails To Keep Torkham Border Open Round The Clock
PESHAWAR: Hundreds of trucks remain stranded at Torkham border between Pakistan and Afghanistan due to the closure of the border from the Afghan side.

The decision to keep the Torkham border operational 24/7 has seen a weak response from the Afghan government while Pakistan has honoured its end of the bargain to provide quick custom clearance to goods being transported from Afghanistan per the transit trade agreement between the two countries.

Meanwhile, the business community in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) hailed Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan, Federal Board of Revenue chairman and officials of Customs House in Peshawar for ensuring facilitation of trade between the two neighbouring countries.

It is important to mention here that the trucks delayed due to the closure of the border have to pay additional charges to terminal operators at the National Logistics Cell (NLC).

The truckers demanded the government to facilitate custom clearance activities at Torkham border in order to eliminate the risk of loss to importers.

The Torkham Importers Association President Miraj Shinwari told Naya Daur that the importers appreciated the announcement made by the PM after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called for trade facilitation during his visit to Pakistan in June.

After his visit, Pakistan fulfilled its responsibility by increasing the number of facilitation staff at Torkham border, but on the other side of the border, Afghan government has failed to match Pakistan’s initiative.

The importers said that almost 900 trucks loaded with goods are cleared at the border, while adding that the process takes extra time on the Afghan side of the border which delays a truck by three to four days, thus adding to the frustration of the importers.

Meanwhile, Customs House Peshawar Collector Ihsan Ali Shah said that Customs authorities have deputed 60 additional staff to keep the border open 24/7 for customs clearance activities.

He further said that smooth import and export activities at the border would increase the amount of revenue collected through trade.

It merits mention here that Pakistan suspended all trade activities with India but allowed Afghan goods from India to enter the country through Wagah border. The Afghan government has so far failed to take practical steps to allow quick clearance of goods at Torkham border.

The decision to keep Torkham border open day and night was taken in September. The prime minister is expected to visit the area on September 7 to inaugurate the facility for which an invitation has also been sent to President Ghani.