QUETTA: A high-level meeting presided over by Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo has decided to open more border crossing points between Pakistan and Iran so that trade between the two countries does not come to a halt as it is the only source of income for the people of Makran.

The meeting held in Turbat on Monday gave a final shape to the modus operandi for trading oil and edibles with Iran, being the only source of income for the local people of border areas. The officials concerned briefed the meeting participants about the traditional and proposed model of border trade.

The meeting decided to abolish the condition of possession of a token for locals to cross into Iran and bring oil back with them. Instead, it was decided the local administration would register a driver and his helper on the basis of their national identity cards and steps would be taken for making the registration process easy.

However, for security purposes, only locals would be extended the trading facilities. “No mafia would be allowed at any cost to benefit from this facility,” official sources told Dawn, adding that the institutions concerned would take effective steps for the purpose. Besides Makran, the people of Washuk, Kharan and Awaran would also benefit from the border trade facility.

Corps Commander of 12 Corps Lt Gen Sarfraz Ali, provincial ministers Mir Zahoor Ahmed Buledi, Syed Ehsan Shah, Lala Rasheed Baloch, Akbar Askani and Mahjabeen Sheran, Chief Secretary Mathar Niaz Rana, Balochistan Inspector General of Police Mohammad Tahir Rai, the 44 Division GOC, Frontier Corps inspector general, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister Asfandyar Kakar, Makran Commissioner Syed Irfan Shah Gharsheen and senior naval officials attended the meeting.

The meeting was informed that presently there were 10 crossing points between Pakistan and Iran, including nine land routes and one sea. It was decided to open more border crossing points between the two neighboring countries.

The meeting was also informed that for monitoring the trade affairs and providing facilities, an apex committee would be set up at the provincial level, while a district committee would be headed by the deputy commissioner.

It was agreed that border trade would not be closed as it was the only source of income for the people of adjoining areas, while the traditional way of trading would continue till the establishment of border markets and provision of more facilities. “All the decisions and steps would be taken keeping in view of the ground realities and interests of the people,” the meeting decided.

Chief Minister Bizenjo, while speaking on the occasion, said the government would provide maximum facilities, jobs and protection to the locals. He said there were apprehensions that anti-state elements could take advantage of the unemployment situation, but the government would provide maximum relief and facilities to the youths of the border areas.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2021

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