News - Afghanistan
Members of the Afghan business community on Monday once again panned the government in Kabul for failing to address the mounting problems they face in exporting their products - especially fruits and vegetables - to Pakistan.
Traders have said that, in addition to increased custom tariffs on Afghan fruits and vegetables, they are routinely subjected to extortion by Pakistani officials. Afghan cargo trucks filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, often including produce that must be carefully preserved or it looses its value, are said to be stopped arbitrarily by Pakistani officials for days on end unless bribes are paid.
"We have huge problems - the payments we have to make at check points are increased, and we don't know why this is all happening," an Afghan fruit trader named Mohammad Ibrahim told TOLOnews. "They are stopping our cars without any reason and taking money from us," he said of Pakistani border authorities.
Mirwais Yousufzai, the business attaché for Afghanistan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the border region inside Pakistan that most cargo trucks pass through, told TOLOnews on Monday that the grievances of Afghan traders have been voiced to officials in Kabul and Islamabad multiple times, but to no end.
"Many times we have shared the problem with officials from the two countries and those who are taking money were even identified," Yousufzai said. "But we have been warned that we should not complain about them, and no one cares enough to take care of these issues."
Cargo truck drivers have also joined in the chorus of criticism, saying that Pakistani officials have repeatedly promised to address the grievances but have failed to take action.
"Many times we have received promises that our issues will be solved, but they are not solved," a truck driver named Shakeer said. "Our trucks have been stopped for weeks and they are taking tons of money in the name of tariffs, but also creating many problems for us. We don't know what to do."
The Pakistani government is known to double or even triple custom tariffs on Afghan fruits and vegetables annually during their crop season. The tariff on Afghan fruits and vegetables was previously 2,500 Pakistani rupees per ton, but the Pakistani government recently increased it to 7,500 Pakistani rupees.