Pak-Afghan transit trade – Supply of commercial, NATO cargo resumes

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KARACHI – The supply of commercial and strategic cargo to Afghanistan under Pak-Afghan Transit Trade (PATT) has resumed after witnessing over a month-long suspension, Pakistan Today learnt Monday.
According to importers and transporters, at least 10,000, Afghanistan-bound TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), carrying commercial and non-commercial cargo, were stuck up at the country’s seaports.
The supply of goods to the neighbouring landlocked country had come to a complete halt last month after the authorities from National Logistic Cell (NLC) and Pakistan Customs stopped clearing all sorts of Afghanistan-bound consignments in view of the Supreme Court-backed probe into alleged disappearance of some NATO containers, destined for the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) fighting Taliban and al Qaeda.
The sources told Pakistan Today that the Pak-Afghan trade resumed on Monday when the NLC, the state regulator of the PATT, started taking demands from the importers. “The NLC has started booking our demands (for vehicles) today,” a Karachi-based importer of commercial and NATO cargo told Pakistan Today. The development came after a ministerial-level Afghan delegation visited Pakistan last week and met the officials of Pakistan Customs and Federal Board of Revenue FBR, he said, adding that owing to the huge financial losses incurred to the importers and transporters, Monday saw thousands of importers and transportation contractors rushing to the offices of NLC and Pakistan Customs for registering their demand.
“The demand (for vehicles) is so high that thousands of bonded couriers (transport contractors) overwhelmed the NLC office with their demands,” said a contractor, adding that he saw one contractor registering at least 800 of his trailers. “Around 50 percent of the stuck up containers are destined for the Nato troops,” the transporter said when asked for a break up of the commercial and strategic cargo.
The transporter said the daily traffic of vehicles at the Pak-Afghan route was ranging between 2,000 and 2,500. “The transportation of cargo (under PATT) would, however, take another couple of days to start,” said a transporter-cum-importer and added that 22 of his containers, laden with ‘non-commercial’ cargo, were awaiting transportation at Pakistan International Container Terminal, Karachi International Container Terminal and Qasim International Container Terminal. Besides commercial, the supply of strategic cargo to the Afghanistan-based NATO remained completely suspended since February 26.