KHYBER: It looks highly unlikely that the import of sacrificial animals, especially sheep, from Afghanistan will resume ahead of the approaching Eidul Azha due to their higher prices in Afghanistan and the inflexible position of both Pakistani and Afghan authorities on the matter.

Afghan authorities are understood to have told Pakistani counterparts that Afghan sheep won’t be exported to Pakistan unless the transportation of Pakistani cows and buffaloes to their country was allowed. They also insisted that Afghan sheep, which were in great demand for Eid, were in short supply in their country.

Sources claimed that Pakistani customs and security officials had demanded of their Afghan counterparts during a meeting at Torkham on May 31 to stop “sending” their livestock, especially sheep, close to Torkham border until the issuance of a no objection certificate by the Pakistani government.

The livestock dealers, traders and civil society activists recently launched a campaign to persuade both countries to allow the import of Afghan sheep to Pakistan ahead of Eidul Azha.

Pakistani, Afghan officials unwilling to budge on livestock trade

Customs clearing agent Haji Jabir told Dawn that he, along with a group of traders and civil society members, met officials of the commerce ministry in Islamabad and advocated the resumption of Pak-Afghan livestock trade via the Torkham border.

He, however, said the visitors’ efforts to convince officials for allowing livestock trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan fell on deaf ears as the latter came up with “lame excuses and blamed Kabul for their uncompromising attitude.”

Mufti Ejaz, a leader of the Jamiat Ulema-i-I-Islam-Fazl, argued that he along with a three-member committee of his party had formally conveyed their request to supreme leader of the Afghan Taliban Maulvi Hibatullah Akhundzada to help resume the export of Afghan sheep to Pakistan.

He claimed that the Taliban’s supreme leader had ordered the suspension of sheep supply to Pakistan.

Mr Ejaz said that his group also held meetings with Pakistani authorities in connection with the resumption of Afghan sheep’s import and was quite hopeful that those authorities would not object to the import.

However, the people related to the livestock business in Torkham, Landi Kotal and Jamrud areas claimed that the restoration of import of Afghan sheep was impossible for multiple reasons.

Haji Dadeen, a Landi Kotal meat dealer, insisted that it was not a simple issue, so it required serious and concerted efforts by stakeholders on both sides of the border for resolution.

“We are dealing with the livestock import issue in a very superficial manner and start our efforts only when Eidul Azha approaches. Persistent efforts are required to resolve it on a permanent basis,” he said.

The meat dealer said that the resumption of livestock import from Afghanistan would not help bring down prices as the Afghan currency was stronger than Pakistan’s and that it would cost the local livestock’s dealers more if they opted for importing Afghan sheep.

He added that there was a sufficient number of sheep and goats in the local market that could easily cater to the local demand for slaughter on Eid.

Bacha Qasab, a meat dealer in Jamrud, said that all talk of resumption of import of Afghan sheep before Eidul Azha was a “mere gossip” as he had been hearing it for the last four to five years without any progress.

He also said that with the value of Afghan currency exceeding Pakistani rupee’s, the import of Afghan sheep would help neither local livestock dealers nor the common men as the Afghan sheep would be costlier than the local animals.

TORTURED: An Afghan boy on Saturday claimed that a National Logistic Cell official hit him with a concrete brick near the Torkham border crossing point fracturing his leg.

Bilal told reporters at the Landi Kotal Press Club that the incident occurred as he was carrying a plastic bag with a small quantity of sugar home across the border.

“The NLC man beat me black and blue and even snatched my sugar bag,” he said.

Local customs clearing agents and daily wagers demanded strict action over the incident and said authorities should stop NLC staff members from interfering in the affairs of customs and immigration as “manhandling” of Afghan nationals by them earned a bad name for the country.

The NLC officials posted to Torkham didn’t comment on the incident.

KILLED: Gunmen killed a man in Bara tehsil here on Saturday evening.

The police said Zainullah, a resident of Alamgudar, was attacked when he was going home.

They said the gunmen fled, while the reason for the attack wasn’t immediately known.

The police said they had registered a case against the attackers and began an investigation.

It is the second such incident of targeted killing in Bara in the last three days.

Gunmen killed young man Sadeeq Khan in Kohi, Malakdinkhel, on Thursday.

Published in Dawn, June 11th, 2023

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