LAHORE  - Trade activities between Pakistan and India through Wagah border, which remained suspended for three days following suicide blast, resumed partially on Wednesday, as the Rangers stopped several trucks carrying goods for India at check-points and did not allow the vehicles from Indian side to enter Pakistani premises.

Sources said security forces are conducting search operation in areas along the border to avoid the repetition of such fatal incident which had killed more than 55 innocent citizens.

According to sources, a meeting of Pakistan Rangers and NLC with corps commanders has decided to suspend the two-way trade for three hours from 3 to 6 pm when flag lowering ceremony is held at the border. LCCI Standing Committee on Pak-India Trade founding chairman Aftab Vohra said that usually trade is done from 7am to 9pm and during this period more than 100 trucks carrying vegetables enter Pakistan while around 70 trucks cross India consisting of cement, glass and chemicals.

Aftab Vohara stressed the need for developing a joint mechanism on both sides to counter such acts, and Pakistan’s economy will be the ultimate loser. He said that trade and other issues should be dealt with separately and nothing should disrupt business activities.

All Pakistan Vegetable and Fruit Market Dealers Association President Ch Zaheer said that long queues of trucks were seen on both sides of border, waiting for trade to reopen while several vegetable items including tomato were perishing due to long delay.

Due to short supply from Indian side the city markets may face shortage of some selected veggies for few days, resulting into hike in their rates, he added.

He said that dealers from both sides have matured many deals but the suspension has once again added to the worries.

Aftab Vohra said that annual Pakistan-India trade potential stands at $18 billion and of total bilateral trade potential, Pakistan’s exports could go up to $3.6 billion, while the remaining represents the India’s export potential.

He said that presently, India’s para-tariffs and non-tariff barriers mainly restrict market access for Pakistani exporters, specifically of textile, agriculture and automobiles.  Presently, Pakistan protects its local industries through the sensitive and negative lists. But, as soon as MFN to India becomes operative, Pakistan will have to abolish its negative list. He asked the government to strengthen regulatory bodies, such as National Tariff Commission and Pakistan Standards Quality and Control Authority to protect its local interest before the trade normalisation.