KHYBER: Customs authorities allowed clearance of fruits and vegetables being imported from Afghanistan at Torkham border on Wednesday morning with a temporary waiver of Plant Protection Quarantine Certificate (PPQC) till October 2.
Officials said that the decision was taken in consultation with civil and military authorities owing to huge financial losses to local importers and absence of proper plant protection staff and quarantine facilities at the border.
They said that nearly 200 vehicles, mostly loaded with fruits and vegetables, got stranded on the Afghanistan side of the border when Pakistan imposed the condition of producing PPQC at the time of clearance of all the edibles imported from the neighbouring country.
“The loaded vehicles were allowed clearance under an urgent release order (RO) whereas the extension order regarding the waiver of PPQC till October 2 would be released later,” said officials.
Torkham authorities issues temporary waiver till Oct 2
The new PPQC condition, though introduced by the federal government few months back and not implemented in totality, was received with shock and anger on Monday by the local importers, clearing agents and transporters as they were left with no other choice but to wait till their merchandise got decayed due to prolonged delay in the hot weather.
Hugely disappointed with the sudden imposition of such conditions for imported merchandise from Afghanistan at the border, an importer of fruits and vegetables Raistan Shinwari told Dawn that such ill-conceived policies adversely affected bilateral trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan in the recent past.
He said that their jubilation over the reopening of border after weeklong closure was marred by the new condition of producing PPQC for imported edibles that suddenly halted the custom clearance process of nearly 200 loaded vehicles.
Raistan Shinwari said that the two weeks waiver by the authorities would not alleviate problems of importers as they were subjected to a lengthy and complicated procedure of PPQC acquisition from Afghan authorities in Kabul and other cities of Afghanistan.
He expressed his apprehensions about a major drop in the import of edibles from Afghanistan due to the PPQC condition as according to him a large number of Afghan exporters were contemplating to explore other sources and avenues to export fruits and vegetables to their neighbouring countries.
He said that the Afghan interim government was providing them with all possible assistance to export similar items from Pakistan to Afghanistan that was in stark contrast to the import policies of the government of Pakistan.
Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2023