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Crossing closure can’t mar Afghans from celebrating New Year

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By Ezzatullah Mehrdad-KABUL: Aziz Khanzada, 21, is second year medicine student of Kandahar University. He, like many other Afghans, has arrived in Kabul few days ago to celebrate the New Year with his fiancé. “I’ve done shopping for myself, my family and for my fiancé, but have not seen any big impact of the closed borders on the market prices,” said Khanzada.

Afghans are preparing to celebrate the New Year while the Torkham and Chaman crossing points from where essentials are imported remain closed.

“The price of fuel and food which are our major need have not considerably increased due to the closure crossings with one of our neighbor country,” spokesman for the commerce and industries ministry Musafer Qoqandi said. “We have access to other sources to import.”

It sounds far-fetched the markets of Kabul city host mass residents and sell goods in the same prices of commodities just like the crossings were open. Just fruit and vegetables have got expensive.

“The crossing is closed and fruit’s price is going up. Meanwhile, the demand for fruit is more than when we had enough fruit in the market.” said Mohammad Hanif, who runs a fruit shop in Kabul city.

For the New Year, markets of fruit are full. “We have stored fruit and are preparing for the New Year. People will buy more in the New Year’s days,” added Hanif.

Domestic fruit and vegetable will dominate market within a couple of months. “We are waiting for Afghan fruit to come to bazaar,” said Sayed Mansoor, another shopkeeper in Kabul fruit and vegetable market. “We are going to have grapes and other internal fruit.”

Pakistani army closed the Torkham and Chaman crossings after a suicide bomber attacked a Sufi shrine in the southern Sindh province, killing at least 88 people. Pakistan accuses Afghanistan of sheltering terrorist groups.

Afghan national security adviser Haneef Atmar rejected accusations. “Both countries must maintain strong and transparent commitments to preventing such groups from operating on their soil,” Atmar’s office had said in a statement shortly after the attack. “We must find and execute effective strategies to eliminate terrorist sanctuaries wherever they exist.”

Afghanistan is not traditionally dependent to Pakistan in importing goods. “We have rescued ourselves from dependency on one or two ways,” said Qoqandi. “We can provide essentials from Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan through the borders of Sher Khan, Hairatan, Aqina, Torghundi, Islam Qala, Abunasr Farahi and Zaranj.”

Shouting salesmen try to attract buyers. Young women and men are hesitant what to buy and try out many commodities. The city works on like none of the crossing is closed. In fact, crossings are closed, but have had nothing big impact on Afghans.