The Integrated check post (ICP), Attari, which facilitates India’s trade with Pakistan and Afghanistan, has been receiving goods only from Afghanistan since New Delhi abrogated Article 370 in August 2019.
Amritsar With the Taliban militia taking over Afghanistan, Indian traders are a worried lot. Talibani forces have reportedly sealed Afghanistan’s Torkham and Chaman borders with Pakistan, the only two land routes used for trade activities from India to Afghanistan and vice-versa.
India traders import dry fruits, onions and apples from Afghanistan. The Integrated check post (ICP), Attari, which facilitates India’s trade with Pakistan and Afghanistan, has been receiving goods only from Afghanistan since New Delhi abrogated Article 370 in August 2019.
In 2019-20, the ICP had recorded a business of ₹2,767 crore, which dipped to ₹2,500 crore in 2020-21. Prior to this, the ICP had been recording a trade valued between ₹4,000 crore and ₹5,000 crore trade a year.
“We and our counterparts in Afghanistan are worried. Taliban has taken control of Torkham and Chaman borders. We also hear reports that the Taliban has promised to not disrupt any trade activity in transit routes. The situation will only be clear over the next two-three days,” said, Anil Mehra, president, Federation of Karyana and Dry Fruit Association.
“It takes around four-five days for a goods truck to reach the ICP after its departure from Afghanistan. On Monday, five trucks with dry-fruit reached the ICP,” said a Customs official, who didn’t wish to be named.
He added, “There is one more worry. Trucks transporting goods to India also carry documents that the Afgani government issues. With the collapse of the regime, how will these trucks bring the required documents? Even if the Taliban allows trade, the Centre’s stand will also matter.”
“Afghanistan mostly send us dry fruits, which are perishable. There are no arrangements for importing dry fruits via sea or air. We hope that the two land routes are opened for import, as the dry fruit is also not that far away,” he added.
Hundreds of porters, working at the ICP, could also be rendered jobless. “We are already suffering as the trade with Pakistan has been shut two years. If import with Afghanistan also stops, our children will die of hunger,” said a porter Lakhwinder Singh.
Trade at the ICP has been diminishing gradually since the Pulwama terror attack of February 2019, in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed. After the attack, India had increased duty on items imported from Pakistan from 5% to 200%. In August, 2019, when New Delhi abrogated Article 370 which gave special powers to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan had ceased trade with India. The neighbouring country had also barred India from exporting goods to Afghanistan.