TORKHAM: Pakistan resumed partial export of wheat flour related items to Afghanistan via Torkham border after about two months.
Custom staff also acknowledged resumption of wheat-related items export to Afghanistan and said that at least 15 to 25 trucks loaded with wheat flour and other related items would go to Afghanistan via Torkham on daily basis prior to the imposition of ban on July 30.
Sources at Torkham told media that federal government had banned export of wheat flour and related commodities to Afghanistan since July 30 due to rising domestic demand. “The export quota of wheat flour had also exhausted by the end of July and thus its export was stopped,” they added.
Sources said that federal government finally agreed to lift the ban on semolina (suji), refined flour used in bakery items and fine atta (flour) on September 24 after prolonged negotiations with the exporters. However, ban on regular wheat flour was intact, they added.
Jamal Afridi, a wheat exporter in Jamrud, told this scribe that so far only one truck loaded with refined flour, fine atta and semolina flour had crossed over to Afghanistan after the ban was lifted.
He said that other three to four trucks loaded with the same commodities were awaiting custom clearance at Torkham as the clearing agents and customs staffers were busy in sorting out duty in accordance with the value of the items.
Other sources at Torkham said that smuggling of wheat flour through unfrequented routes to Afghanistan had picked up momentum during the nearly two-month ban. They said that custom staff in assistance with the border guards had only recently seized hundreds of flour bags concealed in a truck apparently loaded with daily use retail items on the surface of the truck.
However, Jamal Afridi expressed the hope that with the round the clock opening of Torkham border and sufficient stocks at hands, the federal government would also lift ban on export of regular wheat flour as it would convey a positive message to the people of Afghanistan.