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Saturday, September 25, 2021

As per merchants, the Taliban control is a “gift” for Pakistan-Afghan trade.

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As per merchants, the Taliban control is a "gift" for Pakistan-Afghan trade.
Along the Torkham border, an Afghan merchant pulls a beverages cart.

Despite the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, authorities in Pakistan claim commerce between Pakistan and the landlocked country has been seamless.

Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani renewed the Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement for six months in July. The Taliban have permitted transit commerce through Pak-Afghan border crossings, according to Haji Jabir Shinwari, senior vice president of the Khyber Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“As a consequence, trade activity at border crossings have picked up momentum,” Shinwari told Geo.tv.

The vice president even called the Taliban takeover a “blessing in disguise”, claiming it benefits both sides of the trade.

Previously, merchants had to pay two toll levies, one to the Afghan government and the other to the Taliban. That leaves paying the Taliban.”

Shinwari said that Afghan authorities would also solicit merchants for bribes of Rs. 70,000-100,000. The bribes have ceased since the Taliban arrived.

Among other goods, Pakistan sells to Afghanistan grains, edible fruits, pharmaceuticals, timber, plastics, iron, and steel. The deal also allows Afghan exports to India through Pakistan’s land border.

Members of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry are similarly optimistic about commerce under Taliban control.

The Chamber’s secretary general, Faiza, told Geo.tv that the Taliban’s first news conference was encouraging, with Zabiullah Mujahid stressing the need of economic development for the new government.

As of a few weeks ago, just 40 trucks per day crossed the border posts. The number of trucks has risen to 400 in recent days.

She noted that the Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement’s long-term prospects remain uncertain. The July extension expires in November.

“Today, Pakistan-Afghanistan transit commerce is worth approximately $1 billion per year. Time will tell whether this volume rises or falls,” Faiza remarked.

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