KABUL – Pakistan has temporarily halted the import of various food products, with a specific focus on fresh fruits and vegetables from Afghanistan. This decision, made by Pakistan customs officials, comes as a response to a new requirement that importers must adhere to for customs clearance on the Pakistani side of the border.
The new requirement, known as the Plant Protection Quarantine Certificate (PPQC), has caused an abrupt interruption in the transportation of fresh produce on the Afghanistan side of the border. Reports from Pakistani media indicate that none of the vehicles carrying these goods possessed the necessary certification from the Afghan government.
Customs clearing agents, taken by surprise by the sudden enforcement of the PPQC condition, expressed their frustration and engaged in heated exchanges with Pakistani customs officials. They claimed they had not received prior notification about this new requirement.
However, Pakistani customs officials clarified that this regulation had actually been in place for several years, initially applying to imports of raw cotton from Afghanistan.
In response to the disruption, aggrieved importers of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with customs clearing agents, organized a demonstration that briefly obstructed Customs Road leading to the border point.
As night fell, the issue remained unresolved, with transporters and importers anxiously awaiting a response from authorities in Islamabad.
Customs officials at Torkham, the border crossing, explained that there were no quarantine or spray facilities for edibles, especially vegetables and fruits imported from Afghanistan. Nevertheless, they had received strict directives from Islamabad officials to rigorously enforce the PPQC condition and withhold customs clearance for imports that did not meet the requirement.
Pakistani media reports reveal that officials from the Ministry of Food Security had sent letters to all relevant departments stationed at the Afghanistan border crossing, emphasizing the importance of implementing the PPQC. This measure aims to protect Pakistan’s orchards and domestic produce from potential infections carried by edibles from Afghanistan that lack proper spray and quarantine measures.
While customs officials acknowledged the difficulties faced by local importers, transporters, and customs clearing agents due to the sudden enforcement of the PPQC, they affirmed their obligation to abide by official orders issued to customs, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the Ministry of Finance, and border security officials. All of these entities called for the strict implementation of the PPQC.
Local importers have reported that more than 50 trucks and containers loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables are currently stranded on the Afghan side of the border due to Pakistani authorities’ refusal to grant customs clearance.