Businessmen hail decision to open Torkham, Chaman borders

PESHAWAR (APP): Pakistan government has announced opening of Pak-Afghan border at Torkham and Chaman posts round the clock – six days per week, reads a notification issued by Ministry of Interior, issued on late Friday night.

The border was closed on March 27. 2020 as a precautionary measure to contain spread of COVID-19 virus. Later it was opened for three days a week in April. The decision about opening of border was taken in the meeting of NCOC (National Command and Operation Center), says the notification.

Both the borders will remain open 24/7 for six days except from Saturday which will be reserved for pedestrian move only as per procedure already in vogue. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), as applicable for air passengers, will be implemented for pedestrians as well, adds the notification.

During six days when the border will be open, unlimited number of trucks will be allowed to cross per day while ensuring proper SOPs and guidelines for both Afghan Bilateral Trade and Afghan Transit Trade.

The decision has been hailed by business community terming at as a milestone in promotion of trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Former Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Provincial candidate from PK 105, and Convener FPCCI for Afghanistan and Central Asian Countries Trade Committee Shahid Khan Shinwari when contacted, he told APP that they worked day and night for the opening of the border since he was appointed FPCCI Convener for Afghanistan and Central Asian Trade.

He also thanked to Afghan businessmen delegations, officials of the Afghanistan Border Force who held meeting recently at Torkham border with delegation from Pakistan including businessmen, people from the trade and officials of the Border Security Force from both sides and discussed ways and means to make ensure enhancement of bilateral trade ties between two brotherly and neighboring countries Pakistan and Afghanistan.

He along with people from the trade and businessmen communities had several meetings with the concerned officials to ease the closure of Torkham border due to Corona and gradually resume business activities. “Our efforts worked and Prime Minister’s Secretariat issued with a clear reference to his two meetings,” he informed.

About the recent meeting at Torkham on Thursday last, Shahid Khan disclosed that the Pakistani delegation included Sector Commander Brigadier Shaukat, Commandant Khyber Rifle Col. Bilal, Wing Commander Col. Abrar, Khyber Chamber leaders Col (retd) Muhammad Siddique Afridi, Syed Jawad Hussain Kazmi, Jaber Shinwari, Assistant Collector Customs Torkham Usman Aziz and other customs officials and NLC while from the Afghanistan side Commander Border Force of Afghanistan Kamsiyar Yousafzai, GM Torkham Afghan Gumrak, Haji Zalmai of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and prominent businessman Haji Bashir and other border officials of the Afghanistan attended.

He said Afghan government and the Afghan Embassy in Islamabad sent a written request to the Pakistani government regarding the re-operation of the Torkham border 24/7, early clearance of stranded trucks on both sides of the border and issues of more facilitation to the traders and businessmen at the border and the government responded positively to that request which further cemented the trade ties.

He said that Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan has extended all out support to the traders of both the countries and that is why step has been taken by the government of Pakistan along with Afghanistan to reopen the Torkham Boarder 24/7 and will continue to support speeding up vehicle clearances.

He said, according to notification issued by the government of Pakistan, Torkham and Chaman borders will remain open six days a week (with weekends off), following vehicles should have to adopt the SOPs before crossing on both side Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Shahid Shinwari thanked Jawad Hussain Kazmi and Col. Siddique of Khyber Chamber of Commerce Group. Solutions to border issues, in particular, helped to ease the flow of visitors from both countries. It was a joint efforts and certainly it would boost trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Shahid added. Meanwhile, in a press statement issued here on Saturday, President Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), Anjum Nisar, Former President FPCCI and General Secretary of Businessmen Panel, Haji Ghulam Ali, Vice President FPCCI, Qaiser Khan Daudzai and Coordinator Regional Office Peshawar, Sartaj Ahmad Khan, said the decision will give impetus to commercial activity in the region.

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