Pakistan on Saturday announced reopening three key trade routes with neighboring Afghanistan from June 22.
Abdul Razzak Dawood, prime minister’s adviser on trade, who acts as trade minister, announced the reopening of southwestern Chaman, northwestern Torkham and Ghulam Khan border crossings after months-long closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Met H.E. the Ambassador Atif Mashal of Afghanistan today & informed him that in addition to Pakistan’s decision to open Torkham & Chaman for transit trade 6 days/week, Ghulam Khan is being opened as 3rd major trading route to immediately clear the backlog. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/oVZP4J2uiZ
— Abdul Razak Dawood (@razak_dawood) June 20, 2020
Pakistan Afghanistan border to reopen for trade six days a week
All the three routes will remain open six days a week only for trade activities, Dawood said in a Twitter post.
The move followed a nearly 50% reported decrease — from $2.7 billion to $1.4 billion — in bilateral trade between the two countries in recent years.
Escalating diplomatic tensions and frequent border closures have had a chilling effect on Pakistan-Afghanistan trade in recent years.
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.
The three key borders which respectively connect northeastern and southern Afghanistan, had remained closed for several months at different times since 2014.
The months-long closure of border crossings led to huge losses for traders, especially Afghan fruit merchants.
Pakistan and Afghanistan share 18 crossing points. The most commonly used ones are Torkham and Chaman.
Relations between the two neighbors have been rocky in recent years as both sides accuse each other of supporting and providing sanctuaries to the militants.
However, these are slowly improving as Pakistan is playing an active role in ensuring peace in the region by encouraging US-Taliban and intra-Afghan talks.
Pakistan’s special representative for Afghanistan this week held talks with the Taliban’s Doha-based leadership to discuss the peace and reconciliation process in war-battered Afghanistan, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
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.
Islamabad earlier this month named Khan its envoy to Afghanistan amid efforts to start intra-Afghan negotiations aimed at ending Washington’s longest war in neighboring Afghanistan.
Khan, Pakistan’s envoy to Afghanistan from 2008 to 2014, said he “appreciated” the Taliban’s commitment to implement the historic peace deal struck between the US and the Taliban in February.
“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.
Pakistan-Iran trade also resumes
Pakistan has said that its border with Iran, which was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, will remain open seven days a week for trade purposes. The restart of Pakistan-Iran border trade is another step by the two countries toward normalisation, as they seek to break free from the economic shackles imposed on them by the coronavirus pandemic.
Taftan border crossing “will remain open 7 days a week for trade only,” the Ministry of Interior said in a notification on Wednesday.
The authorities will ensure that proper standard operating procedures and health guidelines are followed, it added.
Pakistan shut the border on Feb. 24, suspended trade activities and barred its citizens from traveling to Iran, the epicenter of the outbreak in Middle East.
The government on Monday decided to extend opening time of Pakistan-Iran border for export of mangoes to the neighbouring nation.
The Special Committee of National Assembly on Agricultural Products decided to extend number of days per week and duration for each day for export of mangoes to Iran. Limit on number of trucks coming from Iran is also expanded.
Pakistan-Iran border remains open for three days with a limit on daily duration. The decision was taken in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in March.
Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk
What are your views on this? Share with us in the comments bar below.