GILGIT: The local traders have threatened to block the Karakoram Highway if the Khunjerab pass is not opened from April.

The border point between Pakistan and China has been closed since October 2019 following the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking at a meeting of the border trade association here on Friday, they said thousands of people had become jobless since the closure of the border point.

Speaking on the occasion, the association’s president Zulfiqar Ali, who chaired the meeting, said billions of rupees worth of goods of the local traders were stuck in the warehouses on the Chinese side of the border. He said the Chinese authorities had reportedly taken away these goods from the warehouses.

Javed Hussain, a former GB Assembly member, who is also associated with the Pakistan-China trade, said suspension of trade

activities between the two countries for almost two years was tantamount to financial murder of the local people.

He pointed out that about 70 per cent of Gilgit-Baltistan people depended on the trade through the Khunjerab pass.

The traders demanded of the federal government to take up the issue with the Chinese authorities to save the GB people from further financial losses. They said the border point should be opened under strict Covid-19 SOPs.

Under the protocol agreement signed between the two countries trade and travel activities through Khunjerab pass continue from April to December. However, the Covid-19 emergency has forced its prolonged closure.

Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2021

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