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PESHAWAR: The community of traders here on Wednesday expressed serious concerns over thousands of stranded export and transit trucks carrying essential food commodities and perishable items near the Torkham border crossing owing to closure of the border on the Afghan side.

The business community urged the Afghan government to review its decision and issue orders for the immediate opening of the crossing.

The traders raised their concerns during a meeting held at Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) which was chaired by its President Muhammad Ishaq.

Ishaq while speaking on the occasion said it was witnessing a long queue of 7,500 export and transit trucks loaded with sugar and other perishable items from Torkham to Hamza Baba Chowk.

He warned the truck queue will be stretched over to Peshawar, if the border on the Afghanistan side was not opened immediately.

On the other hand, the SCCI chief said the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has allotted a quota for 45 days of sugar export, and 22 days so far have almost passed.

Whereas, he added, traders are bearing Rs 45,000 per truck as demurrage charges and Rs 6,000 as halting charges per vehicle on the daily basis.

He said the Pak-Afghan traders have been faced with a huge financial loss due to closure of the border.

Ishaq said when they have made contact with Pakistani authorities concerned and then the official told us that the border was closed on the Afghanistan side, which has caused piling up of a large number of export and transit trade trucks at the Torkham border.

Therefore, he urged the Afghan government to revisit its decision as the further closure of the border was not in the best interest of Pak-Afghan traders, bilateral trade as well as transit trade.

The SCCI chief emphasised that Islamabad and Kabul should resolve all issues by holding a joint sitting and to prevent any damage to Pak-Afghan bilateral trade.

He also stressed the ending of an environment of trust-deficit between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

According to the Pakistani authorities, Ishaq said the Pakistan government has issued clear instructions to utilise all possible resources to facilitate Pak-Afghan trade.

As per directions, the SCCI chief said the Pakistani officials told him that pragmatic steps are being taken for carrying out smooth and speedy bilateral trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan and trade to other regional countries.

Ishaq further said that halting trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan was in the best interest of the economy, trade and business communities of the both countries so the Afghan government should open the border without any further delay.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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