Thousands of containers held up at Karachi port

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Thousands of containers packed with essential food items, raw materials and medical equipment have been held up at Karachi port as the country grapples with a desperate foreign exchange crisis.

A shortage of crucial dollars has left banks refusing to issue new letters of credit for importers, hitting an economy already squeezed by soaring inflation and lacklustre growth.

“I have been in the business for the past 40 years and I have not witnessed a worse time,” said Abdul Majeed, an official with the All Pakistan Customs Agents Association.

He was speaking from an office near Karachi port, where shipping containers are stuck waiting for payment guarantees — packed with lentils, pharmaceuticals, diagnostic equipment and chemicals for manufacturing industries.

“We’ve got thousands of containers stranded at the port because of the shortage of dollars,” said Maqbool Ahmed Malik, chairman of the customs association, adding that operations were down at least 50 per cent.—AFP