Prime Minister Imran Khan has approved the establishment of three markets , two along Pak Afghan border and one along Pak-Iran border as pilot project with the proviso of expansion in future for boosting trade with neighbouring Islamic countries at the local level. The markets will become operational by February 2021. Currently, the share in the quantum of trans-border trade and supply chain of the local business community is negligible. Hence in the border markets, only traders who reside within five kilometers radius will be given permission to set up business in the markets. Similarly, customers who reside within 5 kilometers radius will be allowed to do shopping of consumers’ in these markets.
At present, people living near the borders with Afghanistan and Iran are not only confronted with acute unemployment but also pay higher prices for basic necessities they buy on daily basis. Establishment of border markets is step forward for poverty alleviation by way of self-employment.
In Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, a total of five markets will be set up, including four in the tribal districts and one in Chittral. It is encouraging that joint committee will be set up to identify issues related to the border markets and suggest solutions for sorting them out.
The rate of unemployment is very high in the areas close to the borders of Afghanistan and Iran. Agriculture land and water resources are scarce, small scale industrial and business enterprises are non-existent. Establishment of border market are drop in the ocean, though commendable. The chronic issues of unemployment and poverty will remain unaddressed, if short term strategies and long term plan are not implemented to generate substantial economic activities in the domains of industry and business by utilizing the locally available raw material and manpower. Generation of economic activities will narrow the gap of regional disparity and bring prosperity, which will help stem the time of migration from border areas to the urban centers of settled districts in the pursuit of employment and better living. It is the linkage of local business with local industrial and agriculture output that does wonder in solving the problems of poverty and unemployment..*