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Chaman border: ACCI seeks tit-for-tat action against Pakistan

Chaman border: ACCI seeks tit-for-tat action against Pakistan

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On
Aug 31, 2016 - 12:18

KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): Indignant over the continued closure of the Chaman border crossing, Afghan traders on Wednesday urged Kabulinfo-icon to sever transit trade links with Pakistaninfo-icon if the Friendship Gate continued to stay shut.

Pakistan closed the key border crossing in the south earlier this month after some Afghans burnt a Pakistan flag at Vesh, on the Afghan side of the frontier. Several rounds of talks on the issue have since fizzled out.

As a result, Afghan traders claim suffering losses of millions of dollars. They slam the move a flagrant violation of all principles -- something that has once again strained relations between the neighbours.

On Tuesday, another flag meeting between Pakistani and Afghan border officials in Chaman failed to break the impasse over re-opening of the border crossing.Pakistani officials said burning of the flag as an unacceptable act.

The Afghanistaninfo-icon Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) deputy chief said negotiations between the two sides were still ongoing. But the Spin Boldak-Chaman Friendship Gate remained closed, he deplored.

Khan Jan Alokozay, in an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, lashed out at Pakistan for setting harsh conditions for lifting the blockade. If accepted, the terms would harm Afghanistan’s sovereignty, he said.

He did not elaborate on the conditions, but well-placed sources say Pakistan has demanded an apology from Afghanistan over the torching of its flag and guarantees that such incidents would not recur.

Additionally, Islamabad also says the Friendship Gate will be opened as a formal border, with military ceremonies taking place every morning.

Alokozay said they had approached President Ashraf Ghani and the ministries of foreign affairs and commerce on the issue. ACCI has been told that Kabul is trying to find a solution to the problem through diplomatic channel.

On a daily basis, he complained, Afghan entrepreneurs had been suffering massive losses that dealt a huge blow to the country’s economy.

In the given situation, Alokozay noted Afghanistan had only two options: Looking for alternative trade routes or mobilizing the global fraternity against Pakistan for flouting bilateral trade agreements.

He explained President Ghani had asked airlines to airlift fresh fruits to India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The official hailed the presidential recommendation as a positive step.

However, he voiced concern over the trucks laden with perishable commodities like cooking oil, milk and medicine. “I don’t the fate of these containers stranded across the border,” the ACCI deputy chief said. Importers have to pay $200 daily per container.

Alokozay called on the government to halt Pakistan’s transit trade with Central Asia through Afghanistan. “It’s unacceptable that our items perish and Pakistan continues to have normal transit trade.

“Our annual bilateral trade volume with Pakistan amounts to $3 billion. This trade we can have with other countries as well. We may face problems for a month or so, but the situation will return to normal and we will not have to seek favours from anyone.”

At a meeting on Tuesday, ACCI agreed with traders on doing no business with Pakistan as long as the Chaman border crossing stayed closed and problems remained unresolved.

Meanwhile, the provincial council chief said he had also raised his voice in support of the traders. Syed Jan Khakrezwal added he had contacted the Pakistani consulate, which had set hard-to-meet terms for reopening the route.  

The closure had been detrimental to traders from both sides, he argued, asking Kabul and Islamabad to reach an agreement on sorting out the issue.

Samim Khpalwak, the governor’s spokesman, said they had held several meetings with Pakistani authorities. But the talks have been inconclusive, according to him.

Now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has launched efforts to address the tiff. Khpalwak put the daily loss resulting from the border closure at 12 million afghanis.

mud

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