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Afghanistan urges Pakistan to release 1,000s of containers stuck at Karachi Port

AT News

KABUL – In the midst of tensions over transnational cargo, Afghanistan has called on Pakistan to release thousands of containers stranded at Karachi port. The issue arises from Pakistan’s tightened restrictions on duty-free goods being sent to Afghanistan, with allegations of smuggling back across the border causing significant financial losses.

Nooruddin Azizi, Afghanistan’s Minister of Industry and Commerce, highlighted the matter during a meeting with Jalil Abbas Jilani, Pakistan’s Caretaker Minister of Foreign Affairs. The discussion revolved around the transit challenges faced by the two countries, as more than 3,000 Afghanistan-bound containers remain halted at Karachi port, demanding additional tax and duty payments.

The prolonged standstill has led to goods inside the containers deteriorating, resulting in substantial losses for traders. The Afghan consulate in Peshawar revealed that some containers have been parked for several months, exacerbating the economic impact.

This trade dispute is just one among several contentious issues that have strained relations between Kabul and Islamabad since the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan in August 2021. Last month, Pakistan ordered the voluntary return of hundreds of thousands of illegal Afghan migrants, asserting the need for heightened security.

While Pakistan claims over 300,000 Afghans have left voluntarily since November 1, the Taliban authorities argue that the majority have been forcibly repatriated. In response, Pakistan has opened five new border crossing points to expedite the process, citing concerns about security and welfare in light of increased attacks traced back to militants operating from Afghanistan.

As Afghanistan grapples with the challenges of accommodating the influx of returnees, including those who have never set foot in the country, the trade tensions add another layer of complexity to the already delicate relationship between the two neighboring nations.

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