Iran wants Pakistan to lift Covid travel ban

Published October 19, 2021
Soldiers wearing facemasks stand guard at the closed Pakistan-Iran border in Taftan in this Feb 2020 file photo. — AFP
Soldiers wearing facemasks stand guard at the closed Pakistan-Iran border in Taftan in this Feb 2020 file photo. — AFP

LAHORE: Iran has urged Pakistan to remove it from category C of its Covid-19-related travel restrictions, as the ban is not only affecting the flight operations but also bilateral trade between the two countries.

“Pakistan has retained Iran in category C in terms of coronavirus restrictions, which is adversely affecting flight operations and bilateral trade between the two countries,” Iranian Consul General Muhammad Raza Nazri said while speaking to the business community here at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Monday.

Following directions of the National Command and Operation Centre, the government revised its inbound air/land travel categories in June, keeping Iran, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia,

Iraq, the Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Tunisia, Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Namibia, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad, Tobago and Uruguay in category C and imposing a ban on people travelling to Pakistan from these countries.

Mr Nazri said there was no such restriction from the Iranian side on the other hand. “Pakistan should also remove the restriction on Iran,” he sought.

The consul general complained that the Pakistani consulate in Iran took a long time to issue visas to Iranians, while the Tehran consulate in Islamabad issued travel documents without any delay. He was of the view that despite the US sanctions on Iran, there is a lot to trade.

“The Iranian trucks should be allowed to enter Pakistan,” he sought.

The diplomat also complained about the imposition of 50 per cent duty on Iranian apples, while in Afghanistan the duty is just 10pc.

“We request Pakistan to reduce this duty too.”

On the issue of barter trade, he said it was decided that rice and denim would be exported from Pakistan to Iran and in exchange Islamabad will buy electricity from Tehran. But the State Bank of Pakistan refused to facilitate this deal and has kept it pending.

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2021

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