AT Monitoring Desk
KABUL: Amritsar Six days after Pakistan announced the resumption of Afghan exports to India through the Attari-Wagah border to facilitate transit trade, the first consignment of goods crossed over to India in two trucks on Saturday. All covid-19 related protocols were followed. “Two trucks of licorice (mulethi) entered the Integrated Check Post (ICP), Attari, on Saturday,” Hindustan Times reported.
“We had information that seven-eight trucks of Afghan goods would enter India, and we had made arrangements accordingly,” said a senior official of the Land Port Authority of India (LPAI), which oversees the ICP’s affairs.
Federation of Karyana and Dry Fruit Association president Anil Mehra said, “Pakistan has deliberately been creating hurdles in Afghan export to India. After a two-month long hiatus, Indian authorities allowed Afghan exports in the last week of May. The Pakistan government has also not been allowing movement of goods from Pakistan’s Chaman and Torkham with Afghanistan.
The ICP usually sees an annual trade of around Rs 7,000 crore and Rs 1,000 crore with Afghanistan and Pakistan, respectively.
Mehra added that besides allowing hurdle-free entry of Afghan exports to India, Pakistan should also consider the opening of trade with India from the Wagah border. Pakistan had shut trade with India and stopped operations of the Samjhauta Express after the abrogation of Article 370 that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
India had suspended trade activities at the border on March 13 as a precautionary measure, against the covid-19 outbreak. Following this, Pakistan had also closed its border with India. Indian authorities had resumed suspended activities with covid-linked precautions on May 28, but Pakistan did not reciprocate. Two Afghan trucks, which had been stranded before the closure of the border, entered India on May 28.
Truck drivers and porters hope for resumption of their livelihood. “We hear that 20-25 trucks a day will enter from Afghanistan once trade resumes fully. Thousands of porters and truck drivers hope to get back their jobs then. Trade with Pakistan must also open,” said Amarjit Singh Shinda, president, Truck Drivers’ Union, at Attari.