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September 16, 2017

Timid business activities in once booming Bara Bazaar


September 16, 2017

BARA: The Bara Bazaar in Khyber Agency that was once a hub of business activities and famous for foreign goods including cloths and spare parts has failed to regain its past status.

When militancy emerged in the Bara subdivision, the bazaar and other markets remained closed for six years as the security forces launched military operations against two terrorist groups, Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) led by Mangal Bagh and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in 2009.

Talking to The News, Said Ayaz, a trader and former president of Anjuman-e-Tajiran Bara said that Bara was once a flourishing trading spot where thousands of people earned livelihood for families.

He said two years had passed but the bazaar was yet to regain its past glory. The trader community is not happy as almost every trader and shopkeeper complained about financial losses.

“Traders and shopkeepers are of the view that the security checkpoints discourage non-locals from visiting the market,” he added. He said most of the shopkeepers would definitely close their shops if the owners started asking for rents.

Another trader Daud Khan Afridi told this scribe that the market had around 11,000 shops where businesses worth billions of rupees were carried out on a daily basis before the military operations but it was closed when military offensive was launched against the militants in 2009. He complained the political administration didn’t issue prior notice to the trader community before closure of the Bara Bazaar.

“The authorities announced curfew at once whereas traders suffered huge losses,” he commented.

He claimed he had suffered loss to the tune of Rs2 million. He said he couldn’t pay off his loans.

“The traders and shopkeepers suffered heavy losses when the Bazaar was closed,” he said.

Malik Halim Gul, owner of a market, said the 11,000 shops at Bara Bazaar were a source of income for 80,000 families. He added most of the families had no source of income and the unemployment may push them towards crimes.

“Imported cloths, tea, spare parts and electronic equipment shifted from Afghanistan would end up here at Bara market and from here it used to be transported to other parts of the country,” said Malik Halim Gul.

He said around 300 truckloads of cloths would be transported to the market apart from tea, cosmetics, and spare parts, stored at various godowns and then supplied to different parts of the country. He added that around 100,000 people would daily come to the market. Nam Singh a trader belonging to the Sikh community said a large number of shopkeepers had shifted their businesses to Batathal bazaar.

When contacted, Assistant Political Agent Arshad Khan Afridi rejected the claim of the shopkeepers about high rent. He said owners of markets had agreed that they would not demand rent unless traders and shopkeepers had enough resources.

About the strict security measures, he said it was the need of the hour and hoped that businesses would return to the markets once law and order improved.


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