LANDI KOTAL: The ban on the import of sacrificial animals from Afghanistan continued for the third consecutive day on Saturday as the talks between local livestock dealers and Afghan customs officials on Torkham border on the matter failed.

The livestock dealers insisted that Afghan customs officials refused to relax ban until Pakistan allowed cattle export to Afghanistan ahead of Eidul Azha.

Afghanistan had slapped the ban few days ago after Pakistan suspended cattle export to it to ensure availability of sacrificial animals in the local market to stabilise prices.

Talks between livestock dealers, Afghan customs officials fail

The ban caused sheep prices to surge in local markets with livestock dealers claiming that thousands of sheep and goats were stranded on Afghan side of the border.

Earlier, the local dealers had agreed to pay Rs650 as customs tax per animal to Pakistani customs authorities on Torkham border. The Khasadar officials also began receiving Rs8,000 from every truck taking Afghan sacrificial animals to Landi Kotal.

The livestock dealers however declared the charges illegal saying the provincial government recently banned levy by the Khasadar personnel on all types of trade goods imported from Afghanistan, including sacrificial animals.

Dealer Haji Dadeen told Dawn that the smuggling of sheep via the Gurruko-Bazaar Zakhakhel route had begun after the ban on their movement by Torkham border.

He said the volunteers of Bazaar Zakhakhel peace committee charged Rs1,000 for every sheep and goat brought to Bazaar Zakhakhel from Afghanistan via unfrequented route of Gurruko and then Landi Kotal livestock market.

The dealer said the distance between Bazaar Zakhakhel and Landi Kotal was much longer then the Torkham border, which was only seven kilometers long.

He said a number of sheep and goats died due to thirst and suffocation on the way from Afghan border hill point to Bazaar Zakhakhel and Landi Kotal.

The dealer said the local market was short of sacrificial animals due to the Afghan ban causing prices to surge by at least Rs3,000 per animal. He also complained about the additional transportation charges and ‘illegal’ tax imposed by the peace committee volunteers.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2018