GB lawmakers demand Khunjerab Pass reopening for trade

Published May 8, 2020
GB lawmakers say border reopening would facilitate delivery of medical equipment from China. — AFP/File
GB lawmakers say border reopening would facilitate delivery of medical equipment from China. — AFP/File

GILGIT: The opposition and treasury members in the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly on Thursday demanded the reopening of Khunjerab Pass on the Pakistan-China border for trade.

During an assembly session chaired by Speaker Fida Mohammed Nashad here, the lawmakers said the border reopening would facilitate the delivery of medical equipment for Covid-19 patients from China to Pakistan.

Javed Hussain of the Pakistan Peoples Party said on a calling attention notice that the Covid-19 pandemic had badly hit economies across the world.

He said the Khunjerab Pass was closed in Dec and reopened in April every year for Pak-Sino trade and travel but the border wasn’t opened last month due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Say situation improving in region, China

The lawmaker said hundreds of Chinese containers loaded with goods and bound for Pakistan were stranded in China and thousands of Pakistani traders had financial problems due to the border closure.

“Now when the Covid-19 situation in China and GB is improving, the GB government should take appropriate steps to reopen the border,” he said.

Mr Javed said the Khunjerab Pass was opened in Feb this year for the transportation of the coronavirus-related medical supplies donated by China.

He demanded the early reopening of the border to address the problems of GB traders.

Law minister Aurangzeb Khan told the house that the federal government should order the Khunjerab Pass reopening for trade after developing and enforcing standard operating procedure in line with the World Health Organisation’s guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Deputy Speaker Jaffarullah Khan supported the call and said if the federal government could reopen the country’s other border crossing points, it should do the same with the Khunjerab Pass.

He also demanded the establishment of quarantine centres.

Opposition member Sikandar Ali Khan condemned the Indian government’s statement about the GB status and said it was meant to confuse the people.

He said GB was part of Pakistan and would remain so.Opposition member Rizwan Ali said GB Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman had announced that the Nagar-V constituency would be made a subdivision, but action on that hadn’t taken place yet.

Law minister Aurangzeb Khan said paperwork and other requirements for the purpose had been completed.

He said after the cabinet’s approval, the Nagar-V subdivision draft would be tabled in the next assembly session.

Opposition leader Mohammad Shafi Khan said the Supreme Court of Pakistan had allowed the federal government to set up the GB caretaker government to hold elections as the region’s assembly would complete tenure on June 24 this year.

He demanded of the government to take the leaders of the house and opposition into confidence about the development process.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2020

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