Increase font size Decrease font size Reset font size

Blockade of Nato supplies Cargo activity suffers badly in Peshawar

By Intil(hab Amir 2013-11-26
PESHAWAR, Nov 25: Supplies to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) troops in Afghanistan via Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have come to a grinding halt as trucks en route to Peshawar from Karachi have gone off the road in Punjab.

Official and business circles told Dawn on Monday that businessmen involved in Nato supplies had discontinued their operations due to the fear of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf workers after they manhandled a truck driver and broken offan Afghanistan-bound container`s seal at Peshawar on Sunday.

`Once an announcement is made (about disrupting Nato supplies), everything comes to a full stop,` said a Peshawar-based customs clearance agent involved in supplies to Nato in Afghanistan.

No one from bonded carriers to truckers; customs clearance agents in Peshawar, Karachi, Kabul, and Jalalabad; and forwarding agents at the Torkham border checkposts take risk involved in continuing the business activities.

`Every container contains goods valuing from Rs30 million to Rs40 million, the economic repercussions are high so no one is ready to take undue risks,` said Ziaul Haq Sarhadi, director at the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

He said militants destroyed an Afghanistan-bound container loaded with regular trade items, causing losses to the businessmen involved.

The customs clearance agent, requesting anonymity, said only a few trucks continued their journey towards Afghanistan from via Peshawar on Monday.

Hundreds of trucks, said a Federal Board of Revenue official, had stopped wherever they had reached in Punjab on way to Afghanistan, avoiding to crossing into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa amidst fear of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf workers.

According official data compiled on Monday, said the official, some 1000 trucks carrying regular trade items for Afghanistan and some 150 Nato supply transporters were on the way to the Torkham border checkpost after they left Karachi for Peshawar on Saturday.`The trucks carrying Nato supplies have stopped inside Punjab,` said the official.

The customs clearance agent said PTPs protest had also caused problems for the regular trade. `They (PTI workers) broke off the seal of a container on Sunday during their frenzy of checking up the goods loaded in an Afghanistan-bound truck, this involves procedural complications and financial implications for the businessmen involved,` said the customs agent.

The bonded carrier, the trucker, and the customs agent, he added, would undergo treacherous official proceedings by the customs collectorate as the officials would now inspection the goods to determine nothing had gone missing from the container.

`We can`t make the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to pay for the losses suffered by the bonded carrier, if any, it is the affected businessmen`s concern to contact the provincial authorities to compensate their losses after the police remained a silent spectator when the PTI workers were manhandling the driver and tearing off the container`s seal, said the FBR official.

The PTI campaign, according to sources, has repercussions far beyond lending negative impact to thousands of local businessmen and truckers involved in supplies to Nato.

Islamabad, said a Kabul-based Pakistani diplomatic source, wanted to grow the bilateral between Pakistan and Afghanistan to US $ 5 billion. The PTI campaign, said the source, had made things much more difficult, causing a blow to an already sore working relationship between the two countries. He said the trade target had always been difficult proposition to achieve in view of the tricky relations.

` But it becomes even more difficult when workers belonging to a particular party undermine and sabotage years of hard diplomatic labor by illegally beating and manhandling poor drivers of Afghan Transit Cargo Carriers instead of stopping Nato goods carriers,` said the diplomatic source.

According to him, this has the potential to expose Pakistani drivers to a much more severe backlash from Afghan side.

`Beyond that, it amounted to `unnecessarily chocking the lifeline of hundreds of thousands of poor people (from both sides) who are directly and indirectly connected with Pak-Afghan Transit Trade,` said the official on condition of anonymity.