ISLAMABAD: Afghan businessmen are planning to relocate some 80 factories that they currently operate in Karachi to Kandahar.
The move comes on the heels of several Pakistani industrialists and businessmen deciding to move their operating units from violence-hit Karachi to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Apart from the unrest in Karachi, Afghan businessmen say they are also troubled by repeated power outages which have hamstrung both their efficiency and ouput.
“We have spent millions of dollars to set up factories in Karachi but are now planning to shift to Kandahar,” Vice-President of Kandahar Chambers of Industry Fiazulhaq Mashkani told The Express Tribune from Kandahar.
He said many workers of Afghan and Pakistani origin are working in factories owned by Afghan businesses, adding that in one of the factories owned by an Afghan businessman, some 3,200 Afghans and 1,200 Pakistanis are employed.
Mashkani said that Afghan-owned factories produce goods like biscuits, plastic, pipes, papers and cooking oil are a source of income for Pakistan. The goods they produce are exported to Afghanistan through which revenue is generated on this part of the fence in the form of taxes.
“We have approached Afghan authorities in Kandahar to provide us with facilities, particularly land and power, to shift factories from Karachi,” he said, adding that he still awaits a response from the Afghan provincial authorities.
Aware that Kandahar has its own share of problems, Muskani said that traders and businessmen have no other option as there is no let up in the violence in Karachi.
However, thousands of Afghan refugees in Sohrab Goth are unwilling to go back to their motherland.
A leader of the refugees at Sohrab Goth camp, Haji Suhrab, said that refugees will not return to Afghanistan even if the police forcibly tried to eject them.
“Refugees say that we prefer to die if police forces us to leave but we will not repatriate,” Suhrab said.
There are still around 1.6 million registered Afghans in Pakistan, according to the UN refugee agency.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2013.