Pak-Afghan Tribal Elders Urge Brotherly Islamic States to Open Further Crossing Points for Trade and Cultural Ties.
Khar: Grand Jirga(meeting) was held between local tribal elders and government officials from Afghanistan and Pakistan in a remote area on the Pak-Afghan border to discuss urgent matters related to security and development.
The elders from both sides urged the concerned governments to allocate more resources toward the historically neglected areas for trade, infrastructure, and livelihoods, as the current situation has led to a rise in unemployment and unrest in areas across the border.
The meeting resulted in the formation of several committees tasked with addressing these issues on a regular basis, and the implementation of a moratorium on any further closures of government-operated institutions in these areas, as it has caused significant hardship for local residents and traders on both sides of the Pak-Afghan border.
From the Pakistani side (Bajaur) the Jirga was led by prominent tribal leaders, including Hajji Lali Shah Pakhtunyar, Sheikh Jahan Zada, Malik Sher Bahadar, Malik Wazir, Malik Lal Rahman, Malik Rahmanullah, Malik Gul Rahim, Qazi Abdul Manan. While from the Afghan side ( Serkanu district Kunar Province) Haji Habibullah, Malik Yar Khan, Malik Yousaf, Malik Ajab Khan, Malik Sultan, and others attended the Jirga. The Jirga emphasized the importance of ensuring security in every locality, especially in border regions.
Finally, Malik Miadad tribal elder from the neighboring district Serkanu (Kunar), was appointed as a mediator between the tribal elders of the region who assured to address the issues of people on both sides of the border with the Afghan government and diplomats and vice versa with the Pakistani government and Jirga members.
According to Lali Shah Pukhtunyar the Pakistani Jirga’s lead the meeting was seen as a positive step towards improving the situation in the neglected areas it is hoped that these efforts would bring positive change to the region. “Prior 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, we had a good trade with Afghan counterparts, no matter the nature of the trade was regulated or unregulated, but it played a pivotal role in boosting the economy of the then Bajaur Agency former part of FATA.
However, we hoped that the FATA merger with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa will bring positive outcomes in terms of strengthening bilateral trade via crossing roots from Bajaur to Afghanistan. But unfortunately, due to continuous closures of these crossing points, we are losing businesses and cultural ties with people across the border”, Pukhtunyar said.
It is pertinent to mention that the distance between Bajaur in Pakistan and Kunar province in Afghanistan is approximately 55 kilometers (34 miles) if traveling via the quickest driving route, is made, which involves crossing the Durand Line, which is considered a low-cost logistic route for trade.
However, it is important to note that border management has remained a key issue of concern between the two brotherly Islamic states. The transnational movement of militants and their activities against Pakistani armed forces and civilians hype up tensions between the brotherly Islamic states. To have an axe control on illegal activities across the border Pakistani security forces have enhanced the supervision and surveillance of the border in recent years. As a result, restrictions have hindered the movement of people and logistics at these crossing points nowadays, which limited trade between the two brotherly Muslim countries.
There are three main crossing points and trade routes i.e Nawa-Pass, Kaga-Pass, Letai Sar, Ghakhi Pass, and a few others that connect the tribal district Bajaur with Afghanistan, but due to security challenges and other technicalities, these are deprived to be used as trade routes as Chamman, Torkham, Ghulam Khan, etc.
People hope that if crossing points at tribal district Bajaur (Khyber-Pakhunkhwa) with Afghanistan are opened for trade and business these will not only boast the local economy but will also influence provincial and national revenue to a great extent.