BEIJING: The Khunjerab Pass, a major trade route between Pakistan and China was re-opened after a closure of almost three years in wake of coronavirus pandemic, ARY News reported on Sunday.
The pass that connects Gilgit-Baltistan with China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region was closed in the year 2020 after the spread of Covid-19 outbreak.
According to official sources, the Chinese authorities have shared a letter with Pakistani officials regarding the reopening of the pass for trade.
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.
Similarly, Pakistani border authorities have also been instructed to take all measures regarding Covid-19, ensuring the containment of the disease.
Khunjerab Pass generally opens from April 1 to November 30 every year, and remains closed from December 1 to March 31 due to cold weather and lack of oxygen in the high altitude.
But to ensure the smooth customs clearance of Pakistan’s urgently needed and other supplies, the port was temporarily opened twice early this year.
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.
The reopening of the border crossing is expected to boost economic activities between the two countries.
PM Shehbaz hails reopening of passage
In a statement, PM Shehbaz Sharif 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.
The prime minister said that the journey which had started way back in November 2019, had recommenced in the year 2023 and expressed his resolve to move ahead on CPEC with dual speed in comparison to 2018.
He said “CPEC is a gift of progress and prosperity given by Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and the Chinese leadership for the region and the people.”
The affection and cooperation from the Chinese leadership for the people of Pakistan were unforgettable, he added.
The prime minister said ‘a foreign funded person’ had committed a crime of creating controversy over CPEC. He also appreciated the relevant authorities of the two countries and the team members over the restoration of trade and travel facility.