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All set to reopen Khunjerab Pass Monday after three years

PM Shehbaz lauds reopening of Khunjerab Pass

GILGIT, APR 02 (DNA) — The Khunjerab Pass, a major trade route between Pakistan and China, is likely to be re-opened on Monday (April 03) after a closure of almost three years in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

All arrangements in this regard have been completed.  It is pertinent to mention here that Khunjerab Pass connects Gilgit-Baltistan of Pakistan with China’s Xinjiang, the Uyghur autonomous region, which had been closed in the year 2020 after the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The closure of Khunjerab Border caused immense financial hardships to the local business community and a large number of workers were left jobless. According to protocol signed between Pakistan and China, trade and travel activities between the two countries through the Khunjerab pass will start on 1st April and close on November 30 every year while there was a daily bus service from Sost Valley of Gilgit-Baltistan to Xinjiang province of China. The port authorities on the Chinese side of Khunjerab Pass have been instructed to take all necessary measures regarding Covid-19 before the start of the arrival of goods from Pakistan. This arrangement under the framework of the China-Pakistan Eco­nomic Corridor (CPEC) was going well since November 2016 but had to be discontinued in November 2019 as part of the measures to contain the Coronavirus. Similarly, Pakistani border authorities have also been instructed to take all measures regarding Covid-19, ensuring the containment of the disease. It may be mentioned here that as result of cold weather and lack of oxygen in the high altitude, Though with difficulties including extremely cold weather, heavy snow and lack of oxygen, the local customs have worked around the clock to ensure the transportation of cargo. This year, the last temporary opening was last for 12 days between January 30 and February 10 while the first port opening was between January 19Â and 20 this year. The two temporary openings facilitated 128 cross-border personnel visits, 328 transportation vehicles’ passes, and more than 6,000 tons of goods exported, as per foreign affairs office of Kashgar prefecture. It is believed that the reopening of the border crossing will help boost economic activities between the two countries. Home Secretary Gilgit Baltistan, Rana Muhammad Saleem Afzal in a statement said the Khunjerab Pass will be opened from Monday. Deputy Commissioner Hunza on Sunday visited Khunjerab site to inspect the zero point where heavy machinery of frontier works organization is removing snow from roadside to clear it for re-opening of Pass. GB Collector of Customs Syed Fawad Ali Shah has earlier said that the volume of trade between two countries would increase after the reopening of the Khunjerab Pass. He said all the required arrangements had been finalised for normal trade at Sost dry port, adding that he had held a meeting with traders, the port management and other stakeholders in this regard. Mr Shah claimed that all stakeholders were happy and assured the administration of their cooperation in smooth trade activities at Sost dry port. Haji Liaquat of the GB Importers and Exporters Association said the people affiliated with trade between the two countries were optimistic about the revival of economic activities in the region. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Sunday welcomed the reopening of the Khunjerab Pass and said it would assist improve bilateral trade between Pakistan and China. According to a press statement from the PM Office Media Wing, Shehbaz Sharif said reopening of the Khunjerab Pass will increase trade with “iron brother China.” He said the reopening of the Pass removed a barrier that would hasten the speed of construction on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and that the restoration of the trade route between the two nations, after three years, was cause for great joy. PM Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday expressed his pleasure over the reopening of Khunjerab Pass and said that it would help increase bilateral trade between Pakistan and China. The prime minister termed the occasion a welcome one for boosting trade with ‘Iron brother China’, PM Office Media Wing said in a press release. He said the reopening of the Pass removed a hurdle that would further expedite pace of work on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), adding restoration of the trade route between the two countries, after a span of three years, was a matter of huge rejoice.

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