Pak-Afghan border remains sealed
By Riaz Khan Daudzai
PESHAWAR: After the truckers ended their strike and started plying between Pakistan and Afghanistan, businessmen on both sides of the border adopted a novel way to dispose of their Afghan transit goods inside Pakistan and earn billion of rupees.
Supplies, including food, petrol and consumer goods for the International Security Assistance Force and common consumers imported under the Afghan Transit Trade (ATT), were stuck at the border as Pakistani trucks observed a strike to protest the tax they pay on both sides of the border.
The truckers went on strike when the Afghan authorities, despite the directives of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, continued to charge Rs10,000 to Rs20,000 from each Pakistani truck entering Afghanistan. The Afghan authorities withdrew the tax on the occasion of the international donors’ conference in Kabul and traffic of goods resumed to the landlocked country on Monday.
Though the truckers ended their strike, yet check on smuggling from Afghanistan as a result of the sealing of the border by personnel of the Frontier Corps, particularly the points frequently used by the smugglers, is continuing. It compelled the traders to approach the Federal Bureau of Revenue to allow them to consume their Afghan transit goods inside Pakistan. The sources told The News that forwarding agencies operating in Peshawar had also approached the FBR with similar requests, but so far no action had been proposed on the pleas while those in Karachi had been allowed home consumption of their goods.
They said smuggling through all routes between Torkham and tribal areas had been checked by the Frontier Corps and political authorities and even a single item cannot be smuggled back to Pakistan. However, smuggling routes in Balochistan were still open, they added. They said the FBR Chairman Suhail Ahmed had already hinted at allowing the businessmen to pay customs duty and other taxes and sell their Afghan transit goods in Pakistan instead of taking them to Afghanistan. They said the Afghan Transit Trade annual quantum was estimated at $4 billion to $5 billion and revenue loss due to it stood at $2.5 billion. The sources claimed Pakistan is suffering Rs100 billion losses because of a handful of Afghan business tycoons.
The sources said that 1700 containers of edible oil, 2600 of Sugar, 1200 of engine oil, 100 of grease/gear & hydraulic oil, 50 of brake fluid, 300000 tires & tube, 150 million pieces of ball-bearings, 300 containers of auto parts, two million blankets, 200000 irons for clothes pressing, 200000 cycles, 500000 tube-lights, two million energy savers, 300 containers of black tea and 300 containers of old parts and used cars (the list goes on and on) have been imported through ATT via Pakistan and Iran.
Source: The News