KARACHI: Chairman of Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI), Muhammad Zubair Motiwala, has urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to take notice of the problems in the way of Pak-Afghan trade.

Lauding the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan in supporting bilateral and transit trade with Afghanistan, Motiwala, however, said that bottlenecks and delayed execution of strategies hampered overall effectiveness and in turn resulted in dissatisfaction and immense monetary losses to the businesses across the border.

Motiwala said that on PAJCCI's insistence, the border was being kept operational five days a week instead of three days a week. Moreover, passage of containers had also been increased. Nonetheless, the speed of clearance, procedural delays, shortage of trackers and delay in their issuance, exorbitant demurrage and detention charges and load of stuck consignments had limited the reaping of the benefits, and the target of cross-border movement was still not met.

He said that such delays and lack of facilitation created a grave situation, one that was not only financially devastating but which also deteriorated the socioeconomic ties for the future.

Zubair Motiwala urged the prime minister to intervene, especially in the matter of issuance of directives to the international shipping lines for waiver of detention (as practiced across the region) and ensure that tracking equipment was made available at reasonable rates for facilitating the movement of consignments that was lying stuck for months.

He proposed an alternative to 100 percent scanning, whereby parties with regular and clear history might be exempted from this while only parties with some exceptions may pass through the scanning (that too should not exceed 20 percent as APTTA required five percent only).

He also referred to a letter he had written to the prime minister about all the hindrances the trade and transit was facing and the deadlock they created and sought his intervention for ensuring execution of the strategies that had already been agreed upon.

He emphasized that currently the unavailability of trackers had immensely disturbed the momentum, and consignments were being delayed in crossing the border.

Zubair Motiwala and co-chairman of PAJCCI, Khan Jan Alokozai, earnestly requested the prime minister to ensure resolution of this issue. Khan Jan Alokozai said that concerns of businesses in Afghanistan had been aggravating, and if these concerns were not resolved immediately, they would demolish the Afghan economy.

He also highlighted a recent move to conduct 100 percent scanning of transit cargo both at the port and cross-border, which had become the reason for further delays, and despite an announcement by the minister for maritime affairs for detention waiver, nothing had happened.

He also requested the government that apart from transit and exports of Pakistan, Afghanistan should also be allowed a passage for its exports to Pakistan as this was the right season, and it would greatly help the Afghan economy gain stability.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020