BANNU, 17 October: Political administration of South Waziristan Agency continue to harass and discourage traders community by placing hurdles and collecting illegal taxes on transportation of pine nuts to Azad Fruit Mandi in Bannu district.

The administration has introduce a new tax by charging Rs100 per kilogram of pine nuts by transporting the dry fruit to Azad Fruit market in Bannu apart from paying greasing palms of agency officials deployed at checkpoints. They alleged that the money the administration collect was not being deposited at national exchequer rather misappropriated.

Traders at Azad Fruit market on Tuesday accused the political administration of South Waziristan of bringing their businesses to a complete halt and demanded of the governor Khyber Pakhunkwha to allow them to transport pine nuts through Ghulam Khan and Tati Madakhel roads to Bannu.

Malik Khan, a trader at the market, said that the tax was imposed by the political administration for personal benefit. He said that it was an attempt to discourage the traders in Fata as well as in Afghanistan who also bring their dry fruits to Azad Mandi in Bannu.

He urged the Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to take notice of the illegal tax that was tantamount to extortion.

Traders said farmers were forced to take the fruit to markets in Khost province of Afghanistan due to numerous hurdles in way of transporting the dry fruit to the market.

They complained that their businesses were brought to a complete halt due to administration illegal taxes. Political Agent Zafarul Islam dismissed the allegations and said that a plant has been set up in Wana to process pine nuts.