Pakistan on Thursday announced it will reopen two more border crossings with Afghanistan to boost trade between the neighbors.
Mohammad Sadiq, Pakistan’s special representative for Afghanistan, said the crossings are likely to be reopened before mid-July.
Pakistan to reopen points of Afghan border for trade
“Pakistan will open Angor Adda and Kharlachi border crossings for trade with Afghanistan. After necessary arrangements by both sides, the two crossings are likely to become operational on 12 July,” he tweeted.
Pakistan will open Angor Adda and Kharlachi border crossings for trade with Afghanistan. After necessary arrangements by both sides, the two crossings are likely to become operational on 12 July. Torkham, Chaman and Ghulam Khan crossings are already open since 22 June.
— Mohammad Sadiq (@AmbassadorSadiq) July 2, 2020
Last month Islamabad reopened the Torkham, Chaman, and Ghulam Khan border crossings, after they were closed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The volume of trade between landlocked Afghanistan and its southern neighbor have been mostly affected by terrorist attacks in Pakistan that Islamabad blames on Afghanistan-based militants, which in turn led to the closure of border crossings.
Read more: Pakistan Afghanistan trade border to reopen
The three key borders which respectively connect northeastern and southern Afghanistan, had remained closed for several months at different times since 2014.
All the three routes will remain open six days a week only for trade activities, Dawood said in a Twitter post.
“In the spirit of brotherly cooperation and regional connectivity, Pakistan shared Torkham and Chaman border terminal master plans with Afghanistan to enable concurrent and complimentary development on Afghan side,” Sadiq added.
“An enhanced compatibility in trade infrastructure on both sides will help realize shared goal of optimum trade, connectivity and people to people facilitation between the two countries.”
Sadiq’s Afghan counterpart Atif Mashal welcomed Islamabad’s announcement, calling it an “important step.”
“We are certain that the opening of more crossing points will help in the development of bilateral trade between both countries,” Mashal tweeted.
Pakistan is one of Afghanistan’s major trading partners and the largest market for Afghan exports.
In May, Pakistan also opened its strategic Gwadar port in the southwestern Balochistan province for Afghan transit trade.
Bilateral trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan decreased in recent years
The two countries’ moves to strengthen trade ties come after a nearly 50% reported decrease – from $2.7 billion to $1.4 billion – in bilateral trade in recent years.
The trade volume has been impacted by escalating diplomatic tensions and frequent border closures.
Pakistan’s exports of goods and services to Afghanistan witnessed decrease of 21.87 percent during the first ten months of financial year (2019-20) compared to the corresponding period of last year, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reported.
The overall exports to Afghanistan were recorded at $808.644 million during July-April (2019-20) against exports of $985.572 million during July-April (2018-19), showing negative growth of 21.87 percent, SBP data revealed.
Terrorism has been another major factor, with both sides accusing each other of supporting and providing sanctuary to hostile elements.
Pakistan and Afghanistan share 18 crossing points, with the most commonly used ones being Torkham and Chaman.
However, multiple border points have been closed for several months at various times since 2014.
The recent months-long closure of the Torkham and Chaman border crossings due to the COVID-19 crisis caused huge losses to traders on both sides, especially Afghan fruit merchants.
Relations between both countries
Muhammad Sadiq Khan paid a two-day visit to Doha on June 16-17 to meet the Taliban leaders, including their chief negotiator, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Aisha Farooqui said in a statement.
“The special representative underlined that Pakistan will continue to play its role as facilitator for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. In this context, he referred to the highly productive visit of the chief of Army Staff to Kabul recently, which had imparted a new impetus to Pakistan’s efforts,” the statement said.
Pakistan appointed a senior diplomat as its special ambassador to Afghanistan following spearheaded efforts to start intra-Afghan negotiations aimed at ending Washington’s longest war in neighboring Afghanistan.
Hailing the release of prisoners by the two sides as per the peace agreement, Khan said it would be “a stepping stone towards the immediate start of Intra-Afghan negotiations”.
“Pakistan hopes that all concerned parties will make sincere efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. Pakistan, for its part, remains fully committed to support the Afghan peace process,” the statement said.
Ahead of crucial intra-Afghan talks between the Taliban and Afghan government, Pakistan’s military and intelligence chiefs landed in Kabul on an unannounced visit in early June, officials confirmed.
According to the Embassy of Pakistan in Kabul, Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and head of the Inter-Services Intelligence Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the presidential palace.
The United States Afghan peace envoy and Pakistan’s army chief have held talks to discuss the commencement of a peace process between the Afghan government and the Taliban, according to a statement, as violence has recommenced after a brief ceasefire was announced a few weeks ago.
US Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad met with Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa in Islamabad in June, the US and Pakistan’s military said in separate statements.
Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk
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