The Khunjerab Pass, a significant trade route between Pakistan and China, has reopened almost three years after being closed due to the Covidian-19 pandemic.
The route connecting Gilgit-Baltistan to China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region was closed in 2020 due to the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
According to official sources, Chinese authorities have shared a letter with Pakistani officials regarding the reopening of the trade pass, and Chinese port authorities have been instructed to contain Covid-19 prior to the arrival of Pakistani products.
Similarly, Pakistani border authorities have been instructed to take all necessary precautions regarding Covid-19 to ensure the disease’s containment.
Khunjerab Pass is typically open from 1 April to 30 November each year, but is closed from 1 December to 31 March due to frigid weather and oxygen deficiency at the high altitude.
To ensure the smooth customs clearance of Pakistan’s urgently required and other provisions, the port was temporarily opened twice at the beginning of the year.
Despite obstacles such as exceptionally cold weather, heavy snow, and a lack of oxygen, local customs officials have worked around the clock to ensure the shipment of cargo.
This year, the final temporary opening lasted 12 days, from January 30 to February 10, while the first port opening occurred between January 19 and 20.
The two temporary openings enabled 128 cross-border personnel visits, 328 transportation vehicle passes, and the export of more than 6,000 metric tonnes of products.
It is anticipated that the reinstatement of the border crossing will stimulate economic activity between the two countries.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has expressed his delight over the reopening of the Khunjerab Pass, stating that it will aid in the expansion of bilateral trade between Pakistan and China.
He stated that the reopening of the pass removes a barrier that will accelerate the tempo of work on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The prime minister welcomed the opportunity to increase trade with “iron brother China” and reaffirmed his intention to advance CPEC at double speed.
He added that CPEC was a gift of progress and prosperity given to the region and the people by former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and the Chinese leadership.
The prime minister also expressed gratitude to the relevant authorities of the two nations and team members for restoring trade and travel facilities.