A crucial land border crossing between Pakistan and China at Khunjerab will resume for trade activity on April 1 after being shuttered for more than two and a half years.
In November 2019, the Khunjerab Pass was closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus between the two nations.
The pass was temporarily opened between July and September 2020, and then again in November 2021, to allow for the transit of containers filled with products that had become trapped in China.
During the temporary border opening, stranded Chinese cargo were unloaded at Khunjerab Top rather than the port at Sost.
According to a notification released by the district administration of Kashgar in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the Khunjerab Pass will be formally improved on April 1, 2022, as per an agreement struck by China and the government of Pakistan on May 22, 2013.
Chinese officials, according to sources, have sent Pakistan a letter proposing the reopening of the route on April 1.
The letter further mentions that precautions would be put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Qurban Ali, the capital office in-charge of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industries, told Dawn that the extended closure of the Khunjerab Pass has wreaked havoc on the local business community.
GB merchants have been urging that commerce through the Khunjerab Pass be opened on a regular basis, with rigorous SOPs.
However, he stated that it is unclear if commerce would be resumed on a regular basis or will be restricted to the dropping of containers at the Pakistani border.
Mr Ali stated that the region’s business community was entirely reliant on commerce with China because the region lacked any other sector.
He urged that Chinese officials remove visa requirements and enable Gilgit-Baltistan traders to go to China via a border pass.
Before the arrival of products from Pakistan, Chinese port officials have been urged to conduct all required coronavirus prevention measures.
Similarly, Pakistani border authorities have been ordered to safeguard the disease’s containment.
From April to November, commerce and travel activities across the Khunjerab pass are permitted under the protocol agreement struck between the two nations.
Gilgit Baltistan is regarded as the CPEC’s entrance, and residents believe that frequent trade over the Khunjerab Pass is critical to the project’s success.