Pak-Afghan trade surges as Torkham border crossing open round-the-clock

Trucks and other vehicles travel in the mountainous area near Torkham, close to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, on March 21, 2017. (AFP/File)
Updated 12 October 2019

Pak-Afghan trade surges as Torkham border crossing open round-the-clock

  • The border crossing not only serves the two nations but also helps traders access Indian and Central Asian markets
  • Afghan businessmen say the service makes it possible for them to supply fruits and vegetables to foreign countries on time

KABUL/PESHAWAR: Afghanistan’s revenue from trade with Pakistan has substantially increased after the two neighbors inaugurated round-the-clock administrative operations at the Torkham border crossing last month, said officials in Kabul on Thursday.
Thousands of trucks have gone through the checkpoints at Torkham since the two countries introduced the 24-hour border facility.
The crossing point not only serves the two nations but also helps traders transport their goods to Indian and Central Asian markets.
“The 24-hour border facility has proved highly effective for the flow of trade and Afghanistan’s revenue,” Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the eastern Nangarhar province, told Arab News.
For years, Pakistan was the main trading partner of landlocked Afghanistan, though tensions between the two countries prompted President Ashraf Ghani’s administration to turn its attentions to Iran and Central Asian states as well.
Since assuming his country’s top political office, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Ghani have tried to turn over a new leaf and make a fresh start.
The 24-hour Torkham border decision is emblematic of that, benefiting both Afghanistan and Pakistan in economic terms.
Despite the utility of the 24-hour border service, however, a local Pakistani newspaper recently quoted unnamed Afghan officials as saying that Torkham should return to its normal work hours.
The report was subsequently denied by Vice President of Nangarhar Chamber of Commerce Hajji Usman and Kiftan Bacha, an Afghan Customs Clearing Agent and businessman, who called it “baseless” while talking to Arab News.
“When you have easy exchange of goods and the custom gates are open 24/7, it’s always a welcome thing,” Tawfiq Dawari, deputy head of Afghanistan’s Chambers of Commerce, said. “It has had a huge impact on our national revenue and trade.”
Discussing the significance of Torkham border’s round-the-clock facility, Dawari added: “It is highly important for our imports and exports. We are in the middle of the fruit season, and we are not only exporting them to Pakistan but India as well.”


Pakistani doctor who died of COVID-19 applauded as hero in Saudi Arabia

Updated 05 June 2020

Pakistani doctor who died of COVID-19 applauded as hero in Saudi Arabia

  • Dr. Naeem Khalid Chaudhry will be remembered for his illustrious contributions to the fields of medicine and social work — Pakistan’s Consul General
  • Colleagues say he never hesitated while treating COVID-19 patients

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s diaspora community and medical professionals in Saudi Arabia have paid rich tribute to a Pakistani general surgeon, Dr. Naeem Khalid Chaudhry, who became the first medic in the kingdom to have lost his life to the coronavirus disease, COVID-19, two days ago in Makkah where he worked in the General Surgery Department at the Hira General Hospital.
Chaudhry was 46 years old and belonged to the northeastern district of Narowal in Pakistan’s Punjab province. He moved to Saudi Arabia in 2014 with his family to work as a surgeon in Islam’s holiest city. He is survived by his wife and three daughters who also live in Makkah.
Tooba Chaudhry, the wife of the deceased doctor who also works at the Hira General Hospital as a Radiologist, said that her husband kept on performing his duties throughout the pandemic and showed mild symptoms of the disease on May 14.
“He had mild fever and complained of fatigue on May 14, and it was established that he was suffering from COVID-19 after a medical test that was performed the same day. We started treating him and he showed signs of improvement until the beginning of this month. Then suddenly his condition deteriorated which also proved fatal,” she told Arab News on Friday.
“My three daughters and I have also tested positive for COVID-19, but we are now stable. Our symptoms have disappeared, but the hospital has not called us for a second test,” she added.
“Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia and officials at the consulate general in Jeddah called me and assured full support to my family,” she continued. “The Saudi officials also allowed me to bid farewell to my husband in a fully protective outfit.”
Consul General of Pakistan in Jeddah Khalid Majid said the deceased doctor would be remembered as an indefatigable philanthropist for his illustrious contributions to the fields of medicine and social work.
“He was an important member of the medical team fighting against COVID-19 in the Makkah region. Pakistani community in Saudi Arabia has indeed lost a sincere compatriot who served humanity with zeal and sincerity,” he told Arab News on Friday.
Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki also prayed for the Pakistani surgeon while recognizing his services to the kingdom.
“I offer my condolences and prayers for the family of the Pakistani surgeon Naeem Khalid Chaudhry, who moved to the mercy of Allah Almighty due to his infection with the virus COVID-19, while performing his duty on the frontline against pandemic at Hira General Hospital in Makkah,” he said in a Twitter post.
Dr. Muhammad Irfan, Chaudhry’s colleague and close friend, told Arab News that his coworker performed his duties tirelessly and with utmost dedication.
“I was with him in the surgical department for the last six years. He was a close friend and very good surgeon. He never showed a sign of hesitation while treating the COVID-19 patients,” he said while requesting the Pakistani diplomatic mission and the Saudi authorities to look after his family.
“The whole hospital is in a state of shock since Dr. Chaudhry was very popular due to his professionalism,” Dr. Muhammad Saleem, ICU (Intensive Care Unit) specialist, at the Hira hospital told Arab News while confirming that his late colleague had contracted the virus during the course of his work.
“He [Chaudhry] got COVID-19 infection two weeks back while performing hospital duties. We used best possible hospital resources for his recovery but unfortunately he could not survive,” he added.
Dr. Asad Ullah Roomi, president of the Pakistan Doctors’ Group (PDG) in the kingdom, said all Pakistani medical professionals were in the forefront of this fight against the coronavirus pandemic along with their Saudi colleagues.
“Dr. Chaudhry was a very hardworking and skillful surgeon. He was also academically involved in the training of his juniors,” he told Arab News, adding: “He was also an active contributor to a Pakistani doctors’ charity initiative and provided free medical services to the underprivileged individuals in the Makkah region.”
Dr. Zia Ullah Dawar, a public health specialist at the Saudi ministry of health in Jeddah, remembered Chaudhry in these words: “He was a thorough professional who had never hesitated from his duty despite all its dangers.”
He also revealed that the Pakistani surgeon served about five times in the southwestern border city of Jazan on the request of the Saudi health ministry.
“Chaudhry used to help the Pakistani community in Makkah and provided free services to the deserving people,” Dawar continued. “He was about to be promoted in about a month from a surgical specialist to a consultant.”