Traders protest for free trade zone at Chaman border
It is the 28th protest against the closure of Pak-Afghan border at Chaman for pedestrians’ movement and suspension of local trade between the two sides, as the locals and traders are demanding the government to declare the area a free trade zone, reported 24NewsHD TV channel on Wednesday.
The border crossing is closed for the last four months after the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic for local traders and on foot movement of people.
The sit-in is organised by All Parties Tajir Ittehad – an alliance comprising different bodies and individual traders – which started in early June.
The participants have blocked the traffic on the highway connecting the two countries for the last eight days. As a result, the Afghan transit trade, NATO supply, import and export as well as all other kinds of cross-border vehicular movement is suspended.
On Tuesday, provincial minister Asghar Khan Achakzai visited the sit-in site and met with the protesters. Achakzai promised that he would join the sit-in instead of protesting in the assembly if pedestrians’ movement and local trade were not restored within a month.
Maulana Salahuddin Ayubi – a JUI-F member of National Assembly – said the issue had been raised at every forum but the federal government wasn’t taking the matter seriously.
He pointed out the fact that the local population did not have any other source of employment or livelihood except the cross-border trade and movement.
The robbery and theft cases were on the rise in the area after the border closure, the lawmaker said and warned that the situation would further worsen if the issued wasn’t addressed.
The protesters have urged the federal government to open the border for pedestrians and local trade, as the traders said they were ready to follow the SOPs defined for the purpose.
The people living along the Pak-Afghan border are dependent on movement between the two countries for their livelihood. In fact, many have close family relations on the both sides of the divide.