ISLAMABAD - The availability of better rail-roads handling facilities in Iran and a plenty of problems, ranging from the delays in the transportation of imported good to overcharging, faced by the Afghani importers on Pakistani soil are the main reasons behind the shifting of Afghan transit trade to Iran, an official document revealed.

It is pertinent to mention here that Senator Usman Kakar from Balochistan recently alleged that due to negligence of the federal government, 75 percent of Afghan trade was shifted to the Iranian route.

The senate standing committee on finance had asked the ministry of commerce to inform about the reasons for shifting of Pak-Afghan transit trade from Pakistan to Iran.

According to the ministry of commerce, one main reason, behind the shift in Pak-Afghan Transit Trade route, is the availability of better rail and road infrastructure in Iran. The Iranian rail-road network was far better than Pakistan. The Iran-Turkmenistan-Kazakhstan rail line is operational since December 2014. Iran is also developing Chahbahar port with the help of India, which will provide an alternative route to Afghan Transit Trade . Similarly, the ministry said that FBR’s negative list for Pak-Afghan Transit Trade comprising auto parts, tobacco and cigarettes products also negatively impacted the Afghan transit trade .

Custom clearance for Afghan cargo in Karachi takes a lot of time as Pakistan custom only entertains Afghan cargo five days a week, which delays the transportation of goods to Afghanistan. Multiplicity of charges, cargo/terminal charges, insurance guarantees for custom duties, insurance for goods, container guarantees and port clearance charges is also making the Pakistani route more expensive for Afghan traders. Besides the Afghan goods were subject to 100 percent scanning at the borders which delayed their clearance. Long transport time for transport from Karachi to Kabul is also one of the reasons.

Partial shipment and transportation via Pakistan Railways was not allowed for the Afghan cargos, which also caused delay in the Pak-Afghan transit trade.

The security in FATA and KP has also effected Afghan Transit Trade . Due to security situation in North Waziristan Agency, Ghulam Khan crossing point has not been operationalized.

Absence of dry port equipped with modern facilities at Peshawar, which is a gateway to Kabul and beyond, is also a hurdle in the way of transit trade.

Cost of trackers at prime mover was being charged from Afghan importers and the condition of one consignment one carrier is also discouraging Pak-Afghan trade.

However, the ministry of commerce claimed that the Pak-Afghan Transit Trade has improved in 2014-15. In 2011-12, the transit trade had taken a dip to 27926 commercial containers from 56203 in 2010-11, but now it has once again reached to about 50000 containers, the documents added. The ministry further informed that they have taken several steps to facilitate the Pak-Afghan transit trade. To facilitate the Pak-Afghan trade, Pakistan Railway has offered the transportation of 400 containers per week to Torkham and Chaman Borders.

Similarly on the request of Afghan government, system based partial shipment has been made operational. Pakistan customs has started entertaining Afghan transit trade six days a week. The scanning system for Afghan Transit Cargo was also improved.