Islamabad: Even after a plethora of bilateral discussions, the trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been unable to reach its full potential due to absurd policy changes and tariff hikes by the Pakistani government on imports, media reports said.

For Instance, the new export policy by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) insisted on payments in US dollars from Afghan buyers which created problems for several months. Against this policy, Torkham Custom Clearing Agents Association, Khyber Chamber of Commerce, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Commercial Exporters and Exporters, and Cargo Transport Association boycotted the clearance of commercial goods bound for Afghanistan for several days, reported Financial Post.

Registering their protests against the payment system in place, Pakistani traders and transporters argued that no formal banking was operational in Afghanistan after the Taliban came to power in 2021.

The flustered traders demanded the Pakistani government allow imports from Afghanistan in the Pakistani Rupee (PKR). However, for a long time Pakistan government remained reluctant on the issue. Sadly, by the time the Pakistani government allowed payment in PKR the traders has already faced major losses in the trade volume, the Financial Post report said.

Moreover, in another distorting move, Pakistan recently raised the tariffs on the import of fruits from Afghanistan. Afghan farmers blame Pakistan for increasing customs tariffs on fresh fruit every year.

In September 2022, hundreds of trucks and containers loaded with fresh and dry fruits were reported to be returning to Kabul from the Torkham border due to the tariff issue. Some Importers quoted in Pakistani media revealed that the arrival of fresh and dry fruits from Afghanistan had declined by 70 per cent since the imposition of 49 per cent regulatory duty on them.

The rise in the tariffs by the Pakistani authorities was not clear keeping in mind that the country is already facing food shortages due to devastating floods. Haji Jabir, an office-bearer of the Khyber Chamber of Commerce, points out that the imposition of regulatory duty was in contravention of the repeated official pledges about an increase in the country's trade with Afghanistan.

According to some experts, Pakistan is belligerent when it comes to trade and other areas of bilateral cooperation as a manifestation of the country's legacy dispute with Afghanistan on the Durand line, reported the media portal.

After the regime change in Aug 2021, the Taliban administration has complained of many misadventures by the Pakistani forces on the disputed border. The latest of such incidents was reported in September 2022 by the Taliban regime who strongly objected to firing by Pak forces on Afghan nationals in the Burmal district of Patika province along the Durand Line.

In its communication to the Pak mission in Kabul, Afghanistan termed the incident as a violation of its sovereignty and responsible for building up tension on the border.