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Saturday, April 20, 2024  
09 Shawwal 1445  

Chaman border reopens after eight days

Decision to reopen it was made during a meeting between Pakistani and Afghan officials
Many people walk towards the Chaman border on November 21, 2022. Screengrab
Many people walk towards the Chaman border on November 21, 2022. Screengrab

A large number of people, who were stranded at the Chaman border for the last eight days, made a beeline for their destinations after the gateway between Pakistan and Afghanistan reopened on Monday morning, at 8am.

Video footage from the border showed that many people were crossing the gateway. The decision to open the border was made during a meeting between Pakistani and Afghan officials, Chaman Deputy Commissioner Abdul Hameed Zehri said in a video statement on Sunday.

Thousands of people were stranded on both sides of the border was shut on November 13 after an armed man from the Afghan side opened fire on Pakistani security personnel at the Friendship Gate, resulting in the martyrdom of one soldier and leaving two others wounded.

The border was closed in protest against the incident and the Pakistani authority has demanded the Afghanistan side hand over the culprit.

The view of the Chaman border till Sunday showed that hundreds of trucks were lined up on both sides of the border, with their drivers and conductors waiting for the green signal. It is the route for the Afghan Transit Trade—which facilitates the transit of goods exported from and imported to Afghanistan using the Pakistani port of Karachi—and bilateral trade between the two countries.

What happened last week?

For a week, several meetings of the Civil-Military Liaison Committee have been held to restore the movement of people and goods on the Friendship Gate. Amidst this, talks between Afghan and Pakistani officials continued.

The border authorities of both sides held a flag meeting on Sunday in which the Afghan officials expressed their “deep sorrow and grief” over the incident, according to a statement. They assured that the culprit would be arrested “at all cost” and would be given a “strict punishment”.

The negotiations were successful, prompting the Chaman DC Abdul Hameed Zehri to release a video statement.

“In these meetings, it was reiterated that in the future, no one will be allowed to spoil the atmosphere of brotherhood between the two countries. Many anarchists made nefarious attempts to fulfill their failed ambitions by using the helpless and forced people to worsen the situation on both sides of the border,” he said.

But, Zehri added that the authorities and people of both countries thwarted such ambitions and maintained the “atmosphere” of brotherhood.

The Civil-Military Liaison Committee has informed the Afghan side about their decisions. Zehri expressed hope that such incidents will not happen again in the future.

What was the impact?

Though, it was difficult to estimate the losses the traders suffered after the suspension of the trade but Chaman Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vice President Haji Muhammad Qaseem said that $100 to $200 daily is the detention rate (money charged by the foreign shipping line from the payee for the each day the container is not returned) or rent of one container or truck.

“The revenue collected by our Customs Department is zero. It has also stopped,” Qaseem told Aaj News last week. Around 1,500 load containers were at the border under the Pakistan-Afghan Transit Trade, Agreement. Another 700 empty containers were stuck on the Afghan side.

These trucks contained: solar panels, tyres, clothes, medicines, fresh fruits, fry fruits, construction machinery, agriculture-related machinery, pesticides, grocery items, construction machinery material, vegetables, live poultry and day-old chicks, minerals, and chatraas Wood.

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