PESHAWAR: The trade associations of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have urged the federal government to declare the Ghulam Khan and Kharlachi trade routes rebatable, in line with Torkham and Chaman points.
Sources said despite declaring both border crossings rebatable under the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTA) in 2010, the customs department and the Ministry of Commerce have not yet taken any decision in this regard.
Owing to this issue, they added, most traders prefer Chaman and Torkham routes, causing congestion at these points.
Traders complained that due to congestion at Torkham and Chaman crossings, thousands of Afghanistan-bound containers were stranded at Karachi port while hundreds of freight vehicles were queuing up to Takhta Baig for clearance.
As a result, KP traders were facing heavy losses while Afghan traders were being forced to import their goods through Iranian ports.
Traders feared that if the prevalent trend continues, there would be a reduction in Pakistan’s trade volume with Afghanistan.
Talking to this scribe, Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) Senior Vice President Shahid Hussain said the decision to declare Ghulam Khan and Kharlachi points as rebatable would not only increase Pak-Afghan trade but would also facilitate traders in Sindh and Punjab.
“In addition, the distance to Kabul will reduce by 400km-500km.”
He said the SCCI has already conveyed its suggestions to the government during a meeting with Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, Pakistan’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan Sadiq Khan and Adviser to Prime Minister Arbab Shehzad.
“As Torkham is handling 60pc of Pak-Afghan trade and Chaman 40pc, the SCCI demands the government to immediately eliminate the coronavirus SOPs on both points and declare Ghulam Khan and Kharlachi rebatable,” the SCCI president maintained, adding that this would ease the burden on important crossing points by at least 20pc and there would also be no delay in the clearance of trade vehicles.
“APTTA is going to expire in December 2020 and the new Transit Trade Agreement to be signed in 2021. The government should hold consultations with business communities, exporters and importers in Pakistan and Afghanistan before the signing of the agreement,” he added.