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Committee Established to Explore Barter Trade from 13 Balochistan Border Districts

13 Balochistan Border Districts

ISLAMABAD: The Shehbaz Sharif administration has established a high-level body to craft a specialized package for the 13 districts of Balochistan bordering Iran and Afghanistan.

Traders have proposed legalizing oil imports from Iran, suggesting a levy of Rs30 or Rs50 per litre, on Wednesday.

The fencing of border areas has severely restricted people’s movement, leading to numerous challenges in Balochistan’s districts.

Local protests against the blockade have persisted for nearly 300 days, highlighting the urgency of addressing the situation. These 13 districts account for approximately 56% of Balochistan’s population.

Smuggling of petroleum products from Iran is estimated at one million litres per day. The government and intelligence agencies are aware of a network of 14,000 individuals involved in smuggling and using oil from Iran.

To address these challenges, a high-powered committee, headed by the commerce minister and including other ministers and bureaucrats, is exploring options for formalizing border trade without violating US sanctions against Iran.

Traders involved in barter trade have proposed a levy of Rs30 or Rs50 per litre to the government, alleging that checkpoint personnel demand bribes of up to Rs50 per litre for transporting fuel across the country. They argue that paying a levy to the government would be preferable.

The committee is expected to submit a comprehensive report to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for a final decision on the proposed package.

In border areas with limited banking facilities, barter trade presents an opportunity for bilateral trade between Pakistan and Iran.

By promoting exchanges of goods, both countries could enhance bilateral trade relations.

The committee’s efforts aim to address economic challenges in the border regions while adhering to international sanctions and fostering mutually beneficial trade arrangements.

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