Islamabad : The Pakistan-Afghanistan Torkham border, the main trade route between the two countries, that also caters as transit trade route for other nations, has seen a major surge in trade activities since the Taliban have taken control of the border operations on the Afghan side.
The trade activities along the border have increased as hundreds of trucks now, cross the border on a daily basis for trade purposes.
“Before the Taliban took control of the border, we used to have many issues. We had to go through a wait for hours and hours with loaded trucks of supplies for clearance to cross into Afghanistan. We had to pay Rs.16,000 to the Afghan security forces as bribe to cross the border. And then had to pay more bribes on every check post from Torkham till Mazar-i-Sharif,” said Gul Agha, a truck driver whose daily routine of movement is to carry, tomatoes, fruits, vegetables and other supplies from Afghanistan into Pakistan.
“But now that the Taliban are there, we do not have to give many documents for clearance nor do we have to pay any money. They give us a piece of paper at the border and that is our legal permission to move freely in Afghanistan till Mazar-i-Sharif,” he added.
Another trader said that business has doubled since the Taliban have taken over control at the borders.
“Since the time the Taliban has come, in comparison to the previous government, the business has doubled at the Torkham border. Previously, during the previous government rule in Afghanistan, about 70 to 80 vehicles would get custom clearance in 24 hours. Now, more than 300 vehicles come on a daily basis. This has increased our interest in the business,” said Faridullah Shinwari, a local trader at the Torkham border.
“We used to face difficulties when clearing vehicles, which would be coming from Afghanistan into Pakistan previously. One vehicle was checked at least four places. After the car got scanned, we would be told to check them. And in that process of repeated checks, lots of time would be consumed. Many times, supplies like vegetables, fruits etc would be left of no use as they would get shabby.”
When asked about how he feels about the takeover of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Shinwari said that for the moment, lives are coming to ease as thousands of families living along the border on both sides, banks on the trade movements and activities.
However, he demanded that locals who used to travel across the border for work should also be allowed to continue working.