Reopening of Gorsal and Nawa Pass willbring new life on Pakistan-Afghanistan border

Murad Khan

GHALANAI: Mohmand Tribal District has two important trade routes with neighbor Muslim country Afghanistan i-e Gorsaland Nawa Pass Border point, but the major trade route was Gorsal, which has been closed in the year 2011 due to tense law and order situation. The closer of this route badly affected the businesses and life of thousands of the people living on both sides of border, as before the closer, small medium enterprises (SME’s) or business centers were established in different parts of Mohmand district, where billions of import and export were taking place on local and national stage between the two countries.

Lal Zada, a trader of Mian Mandi Bazaar, who were doing export and import business to Afghanistan, said that hundreds of drivers, helpers and laborers became unemployed due to the closure of trade routes with Afghanistan. Sharing his own experience, Lalzada said that usually we left early in the morning from Mohmand District and will reach at night to Kabul/Jalalabad and in summer season, we were come back on the same day from Afghanistan. “At that time the inflation rate was not so much high and the people were very happy as they could buy fruits, vegetables and other goods even in their low income and there were so many business opportunities that even a labor working on a hand trailer was earning 2-4 thousand per day.” He added. He said that reopening the trade routes with Kabul will be a ray of hope and the beginning of a new life for thousands of unemployed people living below the poverty line across the border.

A 36 years old driver Nusrat khan belonging to Barokhel area of tehsil Haleemzai from Mohmand district, said that the Gorsal border between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been closed since 2011. The closure of this road was a huge loss to the poor people of the tribal area, because the business communities closed their business due to which a huge number of drivers, shopkeepers and other workers were badly affected. He said that I was carrying agricultural commodities, fertilizers, and food and non-food items from Pakistan to Afghanistan and in return, I was coming back with the fresh fruits, dry fruits, vegetable oil, cosmetics, soap and so many other utensils made in UAE, Turkey, Iran and other countries.

Senator Hilal Rehman Mohmand said that we want to reopen the Gorsal Border, because the trade route is very much important for the business, transportation of people and goods between two countries, as the economic situation of that area gets better, but unfortunately Gorsal (the only business route in Mohmand) is also closed. “As this is an international issue between the two countries, so only Pakistan can’t solve this issue, to reopen the Gorsal border, Pakistan and Afghanistan will have to set on table and formulate terms and conditions (TOR’s).” he said
HilalRehman said “after the general election in 2018, I wrote a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan in order to formulate a strategy for the opening of Gorsal border keeping on board all the stakeholders and solve the issue with Afghanistan government, but In a short and clear reply the Afghan Government demanded the alignment of Gorsal border and still the alignment issue persists, that’s why the Afghan Govt. is not agree to reopen the border.”

He added that, when I visited Afghanistan, I meet with foreign Minister of Afghanistan and discuss the Gorsal trade route issue, but as a result of regime change, the new Minister was not clear about the this issue, although he was of the view that we want to open all the international trade routes including Chitral Border, but as far as the Gorsal border reopening is concerned, they says if the alignment is not finalized, they can’t open the trade route.

A 38 years old Siraj Khan, a shopkeeper of District Head quarter Ghallnani said that before the closure of the road, foreign made oil, soap, perfume, tea, electronic gadgets, generators, shampoo and other goods were brought across the border at a low price. But, now there is a shortage of these goods and the prices have also increased.

Ex-MNA from District Mohmand, Sajid Mohmand said “PTI has very clear stance over the reopening of Gorsal Border and in our tenure, the speaker of National Assembly made a special committee to talk with all the stakeholders on both sides and try to open all the trade routes including Kharlachi border and all other routes with neighbor Muslim country Afghanistan, I was also a member of that committee, when we reached Kabul, there was some security issues, due to which the meeting has been.

Sajid Mohmand added that the reopening of Gorsal trade route has immense benefits for our people, because it will create business and trade opportunity, which ultimately will bring happiness and prosperity, besides this border will provide a trade route towards other countries like Tajkistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan as well, therefore I demand the present government to try their best to reopen all the closed trade routes because this will bring development and happiness to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and all the country. Ex-MNA said that our neighbor countries are very beautiful and if these routes are kept open, a man can reach in hours from one country to another country and it will create countless opportunities in hoteling and tourism and so many other sectors.

Ex-member of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Assembly Nisar Momand said that the reopening of all the trade routes with our Muslim brother country Afghanistan is the crystal clear policy of our party, Awami National Party manifesto is to serve Pashtun’s rights and make Pashtun of both the countries stable and economically strong. About the benefits of Gorsal (Gosrray) and Nawapas trade route reopening he said that it will economically strong the whole district and the people working in other district of the country will come back to Mohmand and will start their own business, and the labor, businessman, hotel owner and all sect of society will be benefited from these trade routes. He added that I have raised the voice for the reopening of Gorsal border on the Assembly floor and also Staged protests towards Goral border as well.

About the Gorsal border the Ex-Senate Member of Pakistan Hafiz Rasheed Ahmad says this is the most important border with Afghanistan and it should be open for the people of both countries because it will increase business opportunities. He said JUI stance is to keep open this border in the favor of Pakistan and Afghanistan. He added that in the year 2011, in my tenure one and a half year this border was open, but due to law and order situation it has been closed, which is still not open.

A 38 years old MBA graduate HazratUllah, belonging to Barokheel area of Tehsil Haleemzai in Mohmand District says that this border was very much beneficial for every one because the people of this area were doing business with Afghanistan on grass root level, they were doing business from both the side of border, they were exporting Pakistani made utensils and in return they were imported foreign made utensils, soap, cosmetics, fruits and so many other products. He says “When this route was closed, these people were affected badly, some of them have shifted their business to other cities, but majority of them have been shifted to foreign countries for job and employment purposes’ ‘.

He added, if the Gorsal Trade route reopens, these people will come back to his country and will establish his own business, in which they will compensate more people and ultimately there will be financial prosperity. Besides this, it was a beautiful visiting spot as well and the people of this area were used to traveling on weekends.

Businessmen in Bajaur and Mohmand districts are of the view that trade routes should be reopened after the establishment of the Taliban government in Afghanistan because the Taliban government has a friendly relationship with the government of Pakistan.

Representatives of the cross-border business community believe that a deal could be reached if governments on both sides resume talks for the alignment of border issues and reopening of all the trade routes including Nawa Pass and Gorsal Border points with neighbor country Afghanistan and due to the reopening of these trade routes, countless business opportunities will available not only for the people on both sides of the border, but it will also help the business community to boost their business internationally which will ultimately bring peace, happiness and economic prosperity to the war-on-terror affected province of Khyber Pakhunkhwa. Beside this the economic scientist believes that after the reopening of these trade routes a chain of business will be established between south Asianand central Asian countries.

The Writer is Radio Producer and freelance Journalist, who tweets on @Muradonline123