- Special Pages
ISLAMABAD: More than a dozen clearing agents dealing in clearing Nato supplies and goods on Pakistan-Afghanistan border at Torkham have stopped working after receiving threats from militants, it was learnt.
Sources at the Torkham border revealed that after resumption of Nato supplies and goods by the Pakistani government in August this year, militants renewed their attacks on vehicles and lorries ferrying supplies and goods for Nato and US forces in Afghanistan and also transmitted phone calls and letters to the owners of private clearing agencies asking them to quit their business or face dire consequences.
Around 70 percent Nato supplies and goods are being transported through Torkham border in 150 containers and trucks everyday. Torkham gate remains open from 7am to 7pm.
“About two months ago militants dropped letters late night in front of the offices situated at Maidanai area in Torkham, warning the clearing agents working for their respective Clearing Agencies dealing in Nato supplies and goods to give up their business, otherwise they should get ready for serious results.
Clearing agents also received phone calls from militants reminding them again and again to quit their jobs or face the music, the source added.
Round about 118 registered clearing agencies are in business and half of them deal in clearing vehicles and lorries carrying supplies and goods for Nato and US forces in Afghanistan, involving around 400 people in various capacities who assist in the whole hectic process of clearance from Karachi to Torkham border.
Pakistan Custom’s authorities have licensed separately private clearing agencies working for Nato supplies and goods only after new rules and regulations were introduced in August this year, allowing trucks to carry Nato supplies. “One morning I found a letter lying in front of my office almost a month ago which was thrown obviously by militants asking me to give up the business, otherwise they would put me on their hit list.”
“I shared the incident with my other colleagues and my family members who advised me to follow the militants warning. Sometime back when some other Clearing agents dealing in Nato supplies informed me about the threats, I did not take them seriously. But after I personally received the warning letter from militants, I thought it was time to say good bye to the job as I could not afford to risk my life and money.
“Till now more than a dozen clearing agents have quit their businesses and many others are considering other alternatives and options,” Jahangir said, who was once a Clearing Agent.
“Taliban factor is a routine matter, being a lucrative business, some local clearing agents most often throw threatening letters in front of offices of their rival agencies to force them to give up their job.
Where to go? Authorities at Torkham border know very well but still no action is being taken against them, said a clearing agent while wishing to remain in the background.
Another source said that most clearing agents being local residents have shifted their offices to their homes for fear of coming under attack.
The owners of the registered clearing agencies are not on the front, only their Clearing Agents are active who carry out the whole process of clearance, therefore, they have shifted their offices to their homes for paper work, also no landline or mobile phone and Internet facility is available at Torkham.
The clearing agents use ‘Speed money’ to get their job done by the Custom’s Officials.