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Trucks loaded with food items denied clearance at Torkham – Pakistan

LANDI KOTAL: The trucks loaded with fresh fruits, vegetables and dry fruits imported from Afghanistan via Torkham border were denied custom clearance after a representative of National Food Authority refused to issue them quality certificates.

The local traders and clearing agents said that an official of Food Authority came to Torkham two days ago and asked the authorities to halt clearance of all food items being imported from Afghanistan till production of necessary documents by importers that proved freshness and hygienic quality of those items.

They said that the restriction about production of necessary documents was imposed all of a sudden and without any prior notice to them. “About 48 trucks loaded with tomatoes, cauliflowers, apples, pomegranates and a variety of dry fruits are now stranded on Pakistan side of the border due to non-issuance of quality certificate by the Food Authority official,” said the traders.

Hayatullah Shinwari, president of Custom Clearing Agents Association, told Dawn that they halted further imports of food items from Afghanistan as they were already confronted with financial losses. He said that custom officials initially agreed to clear their goods and allowed loaded trucks to enter Pakistan but later refused to oblige after the refusal of food inspector to issue them quality certificate.

Pakistani official refuses to issue quality certificates to them

Mr Shinwari said that all the officials concerned were tight-lipped about the motives behind imposition of new restrictions as they were never asked to acquire any quality certificate in the past. He said that such certificates were issued only at Karachi port and Food Authority had no other office in any part of the country for the purpose.

Mr Shinwari said that their edible items would parish and get rotten if those were not released on time. He feared imposition of the same restrictions on the goods being exported from Pakistani if authorities continued to discourage import of items from Afghanistan.

KIDNAPPED: Unidentified gunmen abducted a handicapped brother of a local journalist two days ago.

Ali Shinwari, reporter of a private TV channel, said that his brother Shaukat Hussain along with his young son was going home from Landi Kotal Bazaar when their car was intercepted by unidentified gunmen on the Torkhum bypass road.

He said that the kidnappers allowed his nephew to go home and took his handicapped brother along to some unknown place. He said that his family had no dispute with anyone nor had they received any threat from anyone.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2018

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