CHITRAL: The August 2011 sealing of Chitral's border with Kunar province of Afghanistan after the Taliban attack on security checkposts has curtailed commercial activities and increased unemployment in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's northern district.Local traders say Afghan areas of Kunar and Nooristan, which heavily depend on Chitral for goods of daily use and medicines, are troubled by the border closure. Dawn
Haji Mohammad Shifa, of Drosh town, told that Nooristan and Kunar people used to turn up in large numbers for pulses, ghee, rice, sugar and other food items but their visit had been blocked by the border sealing prompted by a Taliban attack on security forces' checkposts in August last year. He said sales of local traders had considerably dropped over the last six months.
"We used to employ many salesmen to cope with the influx of Afghans but majority of them have been laid off in light of a drop in arrivals of foreign visitors," he said.
Before the border was sealed, a large number of Afghan nationals used to benefit from health facilities of Chitral resulting in high sales of local drugstores. However, the situation is no more the same.
Fakhre Alam, a local distributor of different national and multinational pharmaceutical companies, said his sales had dropped more than 40 per cent after the border was sealed.
A doctor said 40 to 50 people used to visit his clinic before the border sealing but the number had reduced to 20 on average over the last six month. He also said the district headquarters hospital had reported a decline in the arrival of outdoor patients, mostly Afghans.
Abdul Haq, the administrator of a private diagnostic centre, said the number of patients visiting his facility for X-ray and diagnostic tests had reduced by 30 per cent due to border closure. Chitral-Drosh and Chitral-Arandu transporters have also reported low business since August last year.