Pak to open Afghan border for 6 days in a week
Islamabad, May 17 (IANS) Pakistan has decided to open its border crossings with Afghanistan for six days a week to facilitate cross-border trade, which has been affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic in both countries.
The National Command and Operation Center, a high level body leading the country's fight against the COVID-19, took the decision on Saturday of opening the Torkham and Chaman crossings with Afghanistan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces, reports Xinhua news agency.
Torkham border will remain open for 24 hours a day and six days a week (except Saturday) for cross-border trade and unlimited number of trucks will be allowed per day while ensuring proper standard operating procedures (SOPs) and guidelines for both the bilateral trade and Afghan transit trade, the reports said, adding that similar directives were also issued for the Chaman border.
The notification said Saturdays will be reserved for pedestrian move only and the SOPs as applicable for air passengers will be implemented for pedestrians as well, according to the reports.
Pakistan had closed border with Afghanistan, but announced in April to open the two border crossing points thrice a week to facilitate cargo trucks and containers to enter Afghanistan.
However, Afghan traders say that thousands of their containers of transit goods are stuck at the Karachi port, causing them financial losses.
Pakistani and Afghan traders welcomed the newest decision and hoped that it will ensure smooth cross-border trade activities.
Ahmad Shah Yarzada, an Afghan importer and member of the Pakistan Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Xinhua on Saturday that traders and businessmen in both countries have been demanding opening of the crossing points as their closure had badly affected trade activities.
A traders' body in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also hailed the decision and said it will ensure speedy clearance of containers, besides removal of hurdles to bilateral trade and transit trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Pakistan and landlocked Afghanistan had signed a transit trade agreement in 1965 that was revised in 2010.
Afghans traders have also been allowed to import goods via the Gwadar port in southwest Balochistan province besides using ports in Karachi, the commercial hub of Pakistan.