Pak receives 1st Afghan export since pandemic began

Pakistan received the first Afghan export via three major border points after nearly three months since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country, a senior diplomat said here.

Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Atif Mashal told Xinhua news agency that trucks carrying fresh fruits and vegetables entered Pakistan on Monday 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 at around 10.30 a.m., which marked the formal resumption of exports to Pakistan,” Mashal said.

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

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry 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 werebeing taken after implementing all necessary protocols related to COVID-19 pandemic.

A 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 at Kabul’s request.

Pakistan is a major trading partner of Afghanistan and the largest market for Afghan exports, the statement said, adding that the opening of Gwadar port in southwest Balochistan province has further strengthened bilateral trade ties.

Pakistan and the landlocked Afghanistan had signed a transit trade agreement in 1965 and the agreement was revised in 2010.

Afghan traders have also been allowed to import goods via the Gwadar port besides using ports in Karachi.