Pakistan receives first Afghan export since COVID-19 pandemic

Yesterday, Pakistan received the first export from Afghanistan via three major border points after nearly three months since bilateral border closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a senior diplomat said.

Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Atif Mashal told Xinhua that trucks carrying fresh fruit and vegetables entered Pakistan via the Torkham and Chaman crossings with Afghanistan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces as well as Ghulam Khan crossing in North Waziristan tribal district.

"The first convoy of Afghan trucks entered Pakistan via Torkham around 10:30 a.m. (local time), which marks the formal resumption of exports to Pakistan," Mashal said.

A Pakistani border official in North Waziristan Ghani-ur-Rehman told reporters in the area that proper standard operating procedures (SOPs) were adopted during the cross-border trade in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Foreign Ministry of Pakistan said trade will be in operation for six days a week and Saturdays will be reserved for pedestrian movement on these border crossing terminals. These steps are being taken after implementing all necessary protocols related to COVID-19 pandemic.

A foreign ministry statement said last week that Pakistan had earlier opened its two border terminals at Torkham and Chaman for transit trade and exports to Afghanistan on the request of Afghanistan and humanitarian consideration for sustenance of the fraternal people of Afghanistan.

"Now, keeping in view of both countries' desires to further increase mutual trade, in view of strong fraternal ties and due to renewed Afghan government's request, it has been decided that with effect from 22 June 2020, the third border terminal at Ghulam Khan will be opened for bilateral trade and to allow transit trade and import from Afghanistan through Torkham and Chaman border terminals as well," the statement said.

It said the opening of Ghulam Khan border crossing terminal and allowing imports from Afghanistan reflects Pakistan's resolve to help Afghanistan and facilitate its trade.

Pakistan is a major trading partner of Afghanistan and the largest market for Afghan exports, the statement said, adding the opening of Gwadar port in southwest Balochistan province for Afghanistan's export and import has further strengthened trade linkages between the two countries.

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