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Containers' checking intensified to ensure Nato blockade

13 December, 2011

PESHAWAR: Authorities have increased checking at the Takhta Baig and Torkham checkpoints to ensure that Nato supplies are not shifted to Afghanistan under the cover of commercial or transit cargo to the war-ravaged country.

A trader associated with the Afghan transit trade told our sources that the authorities at both the Takhta Baig checkpoint and Torkham border crossing had intensified checking of the consignments as blockade of supplies to the US-led Nato forces in Afghanistan continued on the 17th day on Monday.

The government cut the Nato supply line after the deadly Nato air strike on two Pakistani border posts in Mohmand Agency that killed 24 soldiers.

The trader said that blockade and strict checking, however, had slowed down the shipment of both commercial and routine export goods to Afghanistan. He said that trucks carrying containers with Nato supplies were parked in long queues at the Torkham border. He said that customs, Khyber Agency authorities and some other government agencies were putting in all security apparatuses into operation to ensure blockade of the Nato supplies to Afghanistan.

The trader claimed a week ago the authorities smelled that some efforts might be made to ship Nato supplies under the guise of commercial cargo.

The security forces then held back scores of Afghan transit trade containers on way to Afghanistan at Takhta Baig checkpost in Jamrud on the suspicion that these were carrying Nato goods, but later the authorities concerned started releasing the goods after thorough checking.

They continued their strict checking of both the commercial and local goods containers, which delayed the clearance of the goods. The trader said before the embargo was imposed, about 300 containers and oil tankers used to go to Afghanistan via Torkham and majority of the consignments are now stranded at the border.

He said even the trucks of local goods such as vegetables and other commodities were not allowed to cross the border, but a week after the embargo shifting of these commodities was allowed to Afghanistan.

When contacted, Ziaul Haq Sarhadi, the chairman of Frontier Customs Clearing Agents Association who is also associated with the Afghan transit trade, confirmed that measures were being taken to ensure stoppage of the Nato supplies at the Takhta Baig and Torkham checkpoints. He confirmed that it slowed down the shipment of both the Afghan transit and local goods as the checking of the cargo had been intensified.

He said the checking had caused delay in the clearance of the cargo, but it should continue to ensure the blockade of the Nato goods, as it was a national concern shared by the traders.

Sarhadi said that the export of local goods, including cement, to Afghanistan was also blocked for a few days and has now been resumed. About the transit trade goods, he said after the new Afghan Pakistan Transit Agreement (APTTA), 80 percent of the transit trade had already shifted to the Iranian port, Bandar Abbas, because of the constraints in the new agreement while the 20 percent ATTA business being carried out through Chaman and Torkham was also affected by the unpredictable situation along the Pak-Afghan border and unnecessary restrictions.

Referring to the difficulties due to the strict and thorough checking of the APTTA and commercial cargo, he said: "This time we are bearing it for a cause because the entire nation wanted blockade of the Nato supplies against its attack that killed our jawans in Mohmand Agency."


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