Pakistan urged to reopen Friendship Gate forthwith
KABUL CITY (Pajhwok): Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) officials on Sunday demanded immediate reopening of the Spin Boldak-Chaman Friendship Gate and warned of cutting trade ties with Pakistan if their demand was not met.
More than a week ago, Pakistani authorities closed the Chaman border crossing for an indefinite period after a group of Afghans allegedly attacked the Friendship Gate and set alight a Pakistani flag, according to the Pakistani media.
Chaman is the only border crossing in southwestern region of the country and most of the trade activities take place between the two countries through this border.
Mohammad Younis Mohmand, ACCI deputy director, told reporters in Kabul that more than 100 trucks of Afghan traders remained stuck on both sides of the crossing due to the protracted blockage of the border crossing.
He said most of the trucks going from Afghanistan to Pakistan carried fresh fruits such as grapes, apples, melon and watermelon and the fruits could spoil if the crossing was not reopened immediately.
He said the continued closure of the gate had already resulted in huge losses to businessmen and fruits orchards owners in the country.
He asked the Pakistani government not to link trade and commerce to political tension between the two countries and reopen the gate as soon as they could.
Haji Agha, senior advisor to the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, said if the issue was not resolved promptly, Afghan traders would suffer millions of afghanis losses.
Sayyam Pasarlai, spokesman for the commerce ministry, said the issue had been discussed with Pakistani officials, but Islamabad did not present a solid reason for closure of the busy crossing.
He said it was not for the first time Pakistan had closed the border, but the same trick was applied every year when fruit harvest season arrived in Afghanistan.
He doubted Pakistan’s intention behind the border closure, saying it could be in retaliation to the ban on Pakistani currency in Kandahar, improving trade ties between India and Afghanistan and the establishment of Chabahar Port in Iran and purchase of wheat from Kazakhstan instead of Pakistan.
He said if the problem persisted, Kabul would consider other ways for exports and imports and would cut off trade ties with Islamabad.
Haji Agha Nani, head of the Fresh Fruits Union (FFU), complained Pakistani forces closed the Chaman crossing at a time when the harvest season of grapes, melon and watermelon was at its peak.
He said trucks loaded with fresh fruits had been stranded at the gate and it was not clear when Pakistani authorities would reopen the crossing, situated in Spin Boldak district of southern Kandahar province.
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