PESHAWAR: Round-the-clock operation of Torkham border crossing with Afghanistan will begin on a trial basis on Monday, said an official statement here on Saturday.
The statement said Chief Minister Mahmood Khan directed the quarters concerned to initiate night services at the Torkham border crossing from Monday on a trial basis, which would be the first ever attempt to open the Pak-Afghan border 24/7.
He ordered the production of a comprehensive report in this respect. The chief minister said the border to be formally opened by Prime Minister Imran Khan soon would promote bilateral and regional trade.
CM says initiative to promote Pak-Afghan and regional trade
Chairing a meeting called to examine arrangements for the 24-7 opening of the Torkham border, the chief minister directed the relevant authorities to take the maximum efforts to ensure the initiative’s success.
Torkham and Chaman in Balochistan are major Pakistani trade routes to Afghanistan and Central Asian States, while there are also small notified land routes in Kurram, North Waziristan and South Waziristan tribal districts.
The Ghulam Khan border crossing, which was closed in the wake of Zarbe Azb military operation in North Waziristan tribal district in June 2014, has been partially operationalised.
The landlocked Afghanistan largely depends on Pakistan, while the war-torn country has also opened its air corridors for trade with China and India. These corridors also pass through Pakistan’s airspace.
The meeting was attended by information minister Shaukat Yousafzai, deputy commissioner of Khyber tribal district, and officials of the customs department and National Logistic Cell. The statement said the chief minister was informed that all arrangements had been finalised for the 24-hour Torkham border opening, including the posting of the relevant officials, while work was under way on the border in two shifts, which would be extended to three shifts from Monday.
He asked the authorities to ensure lighting arrangements on the border for nighttime operation.
Mr Mahmood said the provincial government had provided all facilities on Torkham border, so its operation for 24 hours a day and seven days a week would be ensured at all costs.
He also said surprise nighttime visits would be paid after Monday to inspect arrangements on the Torkham border.
The chief minister said the initiative would not only promote trade and commerce between Pakistan and Afghanistan but it would increase regional trade as well and thus, generating huge revenue for the country.
This is worth mentioning that around 13,000 people and 1,000 cargo vehicles travel pass through Torkham border on daily basis. Human traffic between the two countries has been regulated after the government introduced border management plan in 2017.
Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2019