Tariq Saeed Peshawar
Pak-Afghan border at Torkham, Khyber tribal district, remained closed for ninth day on Thursday as thousands of trucks carrying essential goods remained stranded at both sides of the border causing huge losses to the business community. The business community, as it claims, has suffered around 900 million rupees colossal loss in eight days standoff.
The Pak-Afghan border at Torkham was temporarily closed on September 6 following an armed clash between the Pak-Army led security forces and the Afghan forces that resorted to naked aggression by attempting to set up check post in the restricted area.
However, despite pressure from the business community of Pakistan and Afghanistan the officials failed to negotiate a solution that may lead to opening of the border at the earliest.
“Closure of Torkham border for passage of all kind of traffic between Pakistan and Afghanistan for the last nine days has caused lining up of thousands of trucks laden with goods in both the countries”. Director Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Zia ul Haq Sarhadi told Pakistan Observer.
Sarhadi lamented that the border closure has inflicted a loss of around three million US dollars on businessmen by destroying perishable goods including fresh fruit, vegetable, poultry, meat, eggs, juices and others. He said that from Torkham zero point to Landi Kotal, more than 1500 to 2000 trucks are parked in queue on both sides of the road waiting for opening of the border
Likewise on Afghanistan side, Zia said, the number of stranded trucks is more than 2000 to around 2500 and because of season of fresh fruit export to Pakistan a huge quantity of perishable goods loaded in trucks including fresh fruits like grapes, banana, citrus, melon dew and vegetable like lady finger and tomato have become rot. This situation, he said, is rendering colossal losses to the importers and exporters from both sides.
The Director Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry urged the quarters concerned to take measures for early resolution of dispute because permanent closure of border is not a solution and is detrimental to the economies of both the countries and regional trade as well.
Zia ul Haq Sarhadi said four to five different departments are working over border security and it is their duty to increase surveillance and monitoring of incoming and outgoing goods instead of complete closure of commercial activities.
Earlier in February 2023, it may be recalled, aggression by the Afghan army led to a gun battle between the Pak Army and the Afghan forces at Torkham Khyber tribal district that had also led to the closure of Pak-Afghan for long time resulting in total suspension of trade activities through the Torkham border as thousands of vehicles and hundreds of People remained stranded at both sides of the border. The border was reopened after a meeting of Afghan and Pakistani officials who had met in Landi Kotal.