Afghan transit issue delays Indian food imports to Pak

Himalayan News Service

Islamabad, July 20:

Duty free imports of five essential food items from India have not materialised as New Delhi is insisting that Islamabad should first grant it trade transit facilities to Afghanistan.

As a result, prices of some of the items — mutton, onions, potatoes, tomatoes and garlic — have trebled. The Pakistani government had in May permitted their import through the Wagah border crossing in Punjab. This was done after a survey revealed that the prices of these items were cheapest in India compared to other neighbouring countries. Quoting informed sources, Dawn reported today that New Delhi was unwilling to facilitate the imports unless Islamabad granted it transit facilities to export Indian products to Afghanistan through the land route.

So far only 200 head of livestock have been imported via the Wagah crossing, while 60-65 containers of mutton had arrived at Karachi via the sea, the prime minister’s economic adviser Ashfaq Hassan Khan said.

Each container contained 11-12 tonnes of meat and its landed cost was Rs 80-82 Pakistani Currency (PC) per kg. This had brought down the average price of mutton from Rs 199 PC per kg to Rs 190-195 PC per kg.

However, potato prices have increased from Rs 15 PC per kg in May to Rs 40-45 PC per kg. Garlic prices have increased to Rs 90-100 PC per kg against Rs 40-42 PC per kg in May. Tomato and onions prices have either stabilised or slightly reduced.