Pakistan,Attari,Land Port Authorities of India

With India hiking the customs duty on goods imported from Pakistan, the integrated checkpost (ICP) at Attari, which facilitates trade between India and Pakistan, is wearing a deserted look as import from the neighbouring country has dipped drastically.

As per officials of Land Port Authorities of India (LPAI), which manages the ICP affairs, around 200 trucks used to import goods from Pakistan to India via Attari on daily basis before the duty hike, but now only 5-10 trucks are coming from across the border.

Two days after the February 14 Pulwama terror attack that killed about 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, India hiked the customs duty on goods imported from Pakistan to 200% with immediate. New Delhi had also revoked the most favoured nation (MNF) status it had given to its neighbour in 1996.

“On Tuesday, only five trucks laden with dried date, which is free from customs duty, reached the ICP from Pakistan. No goods that come under the duty hike have been imported by Indian traders since Monday,” said LPAI Attari manager Sukhdev Singh.

“Earlier, 150-200 trucks had been importing items such as gypsum, cement, glass, dried fruits, dried dates, plaster of paris (POP), caustic soda etc through the ICP. Now, only 5-10 trucks are coming with dried dates, which are exempted from customs duty,” Singh said.

“On Monday, 10 trucks laden with dried dates reached the ICP from Pakistan while the count dipped to 5 only on Tuesday,” he added.

An official at the ICP, seeking anonymity, said, “If the tension between India and Pakistan continues, the ICP would soon be abandoned. The livelihood of hundreds of workers, including porters, will be affected,” he said.

Export trade remains steady

However, the export trade remains steady even after the Pulwama attack. LPAI officials say four to five trucks of plastic granules and yarn are being exported to Pakistan daily, which is the normal daily traffic from India to the neghbouring country .

Meanwhile, Rajdeep Uppal, senior representative, Confederation of International Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CICCI), said all trade organisations of India which import goods via Attari ICP stand united behind the Indian government.

“Though we are suffering losses, we want justice for the families of those killed in Pulwama attack,” he added.

The Attari ICP is 30 km from Amritsar on the India-Pakistan border, almost midway between the holy city and Lahore. It is spread over a total area of 118 acres in April 2012.