ISLAMABAD: Afghan authorities have expressed their inability to keep the Torkham border crossing open for 24 hours. From now on, the crossing will open at 9am and shut down at 7pm.
Pakistan had decided to keep the crossing open round the clock to promote peace in the region and boost economic growth.
Last month, Prime Minister Imran Khan formally inaugurated the round-the-clock opening of the border crossing.
However, in what appears to be an attempt to sabotage these efforts, Afghan authorities said they lacked the staff and other resources to keep the crossing open for 24 hours.
According to customs clearance agents, around 300 vehicles are unable to cross the border every day despite having clearance and a gate pass.
The traffic at the border crossing is expected to decline further until the results of the Afghan presidential election are announced. Trade is likely to reduce by 30%.
Speaking to the media after inaugurating the Integrated Transit Trade Management System at Torkham crossing last month, the prime minister had said the decision to keep the border open for 24 hours would greatly benefit the region. “The opening of the border will bring prosperity to the region. It will provide access to Pakistani goods to the Central Asian markets,” he said.
“We will increase bilateral trade with Afghanistan by 50% to $3.5 billion annually. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will also reap benefits of this trade route, as Peshawar will become an economic hub in the region,” he added.
In a press statement issued recently, the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) had called for pragmatic measures to accelerate the checking and clearing process of export trucks loaded with goods and other items at Torkham border crossing and to ease the difficulties of the business community and exporters.
SCCI President Maqsood Anwar stressed the need for removal of impediments to give boost to mutual trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan. “Both the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan should take measures to facilitate business community on both sides of the border in order to enhance mutual trade volume between the two countries, particularly to make the Pakistani government’s step to keep operations running round the clock 7 at Torkham border crossing beneficial for business community and to increase export,” he said.