PESHAWAR: The Pakistani government’s decision to reopen all main border checkpoints with Afghanistan will help increase business and reduce trust deficit between the two countries, Afghan special envoy Muhammed Umer Daudzai told Arab News on Sunday, as the Kharlachi crossing in Kurram district, Khyber Pakhtunkwa resumed operations after a long coronavirus closure.
The Pakistani-Afghan border was sealed in mid-March as part of containment measures against the COVID-19 outbreak. After reopening its crossings at Chaman in Balochistan, and Torkham, Ghulam Khan and Angoor Adda in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the past few weeks to facilitate trade, Pakistan on Saturday unsealed Kharlachi, which is the fifth main checkpoint on the borderline.
“These all are very positive signs. This (border opening) is a step toward right direction. This will increase businesses, people-to-people contact and remove trust-deficit,” the Afghan special envoy for Pakistan said.
Pakistani Foreign Office spokeswoman Aisha Farooqui also said the border’s reopening will help strengthen bilateral ties.
“The opening of the fifth Kharlachi border in Kurram tribal district with Afghanistan tends to encourage trade between the two countries, which will help strengthen their ties in future,” she told Arab News.
According to Faiz Muhammad from the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), Pakistan’s move to reopen the five border crossings with Afghanistan was “a remarkable initiative” and would have a huge positive on trade between the two countries.
“Pakistan can regain Afghanistan trade market if it offers incentives to traders and reduce duty on items,” said the senior executive at SCCI, the chamber which role is to stimulate trade and business activity in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the province in which most border crossings with Afghanistan are located.
He said that the quantum of Kabul-Islamabad trade was $1.2 billion per annum before the coronavirus outbreak and dropped to an estimated $1 billion after the border closure.