QUETTA -  The Balochistan border city of Chaman was shut down on Sunday against the closure of Pak-Afghan border for over a month.

All shops remained closed and business activities came to a grinding halt, reflecting fury of the traders and public alike.

It was a strike observed by the people who shut down the Chaman city to protest sealing of Pak-Afghan border, President of Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce Standing Committee, Daro Khan Achakzai told The Nation.

The livelihood of Chaman city solely depends on border trade, noted Daro Khan, adding a rough figure of 10,000-13,000 people cross border points via Friendship Gate on regular basis daily.

The Pakistani authorities sealed border crossing points with Afghanistan last month after the terror wave shook the country.

The shutter down strike was called by All Parties Traders Ettihad, said Nazeer Ahmed Achakzai.

Achakzai, the spokesman of All Parties Tajir (Traders) Ettihad said the traders and people of Chaman were in terrible state of affairs since the border was sealed as thousands of shops of Chaman citizens across the border were closed for the last one month.

The government imposed Section 144 in Chaman the day when border with Afghanistan was sealed and every sort of gathering, announcements and other activities were banned.

Daro Khan said the traders of Chaman paid an amount of Rs14.20 billion to Customs authorities of Quetta last year.

As many as 150 Pakistani containers were stranded in Afghanistan, while on Pakistani side Chaman flooded with containers, noted Daro Khan Achakzai.

“The traders have to pay Rs15,000 levy against each container on per day basis as per shipping line agreements to the owner of containers on delay of consignments.”

The containers for goods shipment are hired under shipping line accord, said the president of Pak-Afghan Standing Committee President, adding some containers come back to the destination within 10 days and some are allowed for two weeks, but if the containers go stuck due to some reasons anywhere and cannot reach their station on prescribed timing they will have to pay around US $ 90 per day.

“The calculation of financial losses is overwhelming, asserted Daro Khan Achakzai, “According to a rough estimate, 3000 containers are reportedly stranded in Balochistan, mostly in Chaman, Quetta and across the border in Afghanistan.”    

“The decision to reopen the border with Afghanistan has been finalised by the high-ups,” said Daro Khan, adding a high official briefed them on the decision, telling the border will be opened within two-days.

No unpleasant incident was reported during the shutterdown strike in Chaman on Sunday.

The strike was an expression of anger of the masses of Chaman against closure of Friendship Gate, described Dad Shah Pezwak, the General Secretary of Anjuman-e-Tajiran Chamann, adding the residents of border city had no other means of earning their livelihood, as agriculture and livestock are next to nothing, but thoroughly depended on border trade.

Pezwak said observing shutterdown strike was the legal and constitutional right of masses which they adopted on March 19 to denounce the sealing of border. The traders will resort to more strict ways of closing Quetta-Chaman Highway if the rulers did not open it, threatened Dad Shah.

“We are shocked to see trade being done at Wagah border with traditional enemy which was never suspended despite several wars and tense relations,” said the General Secretary of Anjuman-e-Tajiran Chaman, but closure of border with enemy’s friend Afghanistan was irrational.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 20-Mar-2017 here.