Indo-Pak trade at Attari-Wagah border at all-time low even before Article 370 scrapping
Meanwhile, a question mark remains over the Samjhauta Express which was stopped on Thursday by Pakistan on its side of the border. Pakistan has not intimated India about the suspension of the service
CHANDIGARH: Even before the heightened tensions between India and Pakistan in the wake of the abrogation of Article 370, trade between India and Pakistan through the Attari-Wagah border had hit a new low, with only cement, gypsum and rock salt being imported by Indian traders. Now, even that is set to stop after Pakistan announced the suspension of bilateral trade.
Meanwhile, a question mark remains over the Samjhauta Express train which was stopped on Thursday by Pakistan on their side of the border. Pakistan, however, has not intimated India about the suspension of the service.
"Trade with Pakistan across the Attari-Wagah border had been reduced to a trickle, especially after the post-Pulwama levy of 200 per cent trade tariff on goods by India. The present developments in Kashmir will further vitiate business sentiment for cross border trade. Empty godowns, stray dogs and unemployed contract labour define the border outposts as of now,’’ says Gunbir Singh, ex-Chairman, CII Punjab and President, Dilbir Foundation.
Commissioner of Customs at Amritsar, Deepak Gupta said, "Trade between India and Pakistan is normal as of now. Goods from Afghanistan also came at the Integrated Check Post (ICP)."
Federation of Karyana and Dry Fruit Commercial Association President Anil Mehra said, "India is not going to be impacted by the suspension of bilateral trade. It is Pakistan which is going to be hit. Pakistan imports vegetables like tomatoes, spices like ginger and other items from India through the Attari-Wagah route whenever they face shortages. Now, with the decision to suspend trade ties, it will be difficult to meet their demand for vegetables."
He said the import of dry dates and other dry fruits from Afghanistan would be impacted.
"Traders in India only import cement, gypsum and rock salt which is already available here. So we are not going to be adversely impacted by Pakistan's move,' he said.
Chairman of PHD Chamber of Commerce (Punjab) RS Sachdeva said, "Trade has come at a standstill. Hardly anything is being imported or exported. If the same situation continues, traders will face huge losses. Despite tensions, both governments should keep the trade momentum going.’’
The Samjhauta Express between Delhi and Lahore with 117 passengers (41 Pakistani nationals and 76 Indians) on board reached Delhi early on Friday morning five hours behind schedule. The train was standing on the Wagah side of the intentional border as Pakistan refused to take it inside Indian territory citing security reasons. It was brought by an Indian engine from the zero line to Attari.
The train runs between both countries on Monday and Thursday. "We do not know if the train will come from Pakistan on Monday or not. As of now, it is expected to come as Pakistan has not officially intimated that it has suspended the train service,’’ said a senior railway officer.
Officials also said there were no passengers on the Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus on Friday. Usually, there are five to ten passengers but due to the prevailing tensions, the bus went empty.