In the heart of Peshawar, the once-vibrant Shinwari market, renowned for its antique treasures, is witnessing a decline in splendor. For 26 years, Hakim Khan, an Afghan merchant, thrived here, selling wooden artifacts and unique items.
Previously, the market flourished, attracting foreign tourists from Europe, Germany, America, and Italy. However, with the exodus of unregistered foreigners from Pakistan, the market has dwindled.
Hakim Khan laments the impact on the market, highlighting a significant reduction in the number of migrant shops, which used to number around 300. The absence of unregistered foreigners, who left for Afghanistan due to the government’s directives, has taken a toll on the once-thriving businesses. Khan reminisces about better times when border crossings were more accessible, allowing tourists to come and go freely.
The merchant emphasizes the current challenges, citing difficulties in obtaining visas and passports for travel between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Expressing concern about returning to Afghanistan, Khan stresses the importance of streamlined visa processes for business continuity.
In a plea to the Pakistani government, Hakim Khan calls for facilities to ease business operations. He suggests allowing individuals like him to visit their home country once a month, proposing that it would positively impact both Afghanistan and Pakistan’s economies.
It’s worth noting that the deadline for illegal foreigners to leave Pakistan passed on November 1. Official sources reveal that Afghan citizens are now permitted to enter Afghanistan through the Torkham border after registering at the Khyber’s Landi Kotal entry point camp. The repatriation effort has seen 228,574 illegal Afghans leaving Pakistan so far.