Pakistan opens border with Afghanistan to allow essential goods to pass through

Cross-border movement of trucks resumes after PM Imran announces reopening of Chaman-Spinboldak border on humanitarian grounds


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Saturday reopened its border with Afghanistan to allow the crossing over of trucks carrying food and essential goods under the Afghan Transit Trade, customs officials informed on Saturday.

The cross-border movement of trucks came a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced the opening of the Chaman-Spinboldak border “to support our Afghan brothers and sisters” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In the first phase, 50 trucks with fresh fruits and vegetables entered Afghanistan after clearance from customs officials.

The officials said that the clearance process was completed late on Friday.

It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan had sealed the Chaman border on March 1 in order to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

All cross-border movement was suspended as Islamabad made hectic efforts to screen travelers for the virus.

The prime minister had given directions on Friday to open the Chaman-Spinboldak border as a gesture of support to war-torn Afghanistan.

“Despite the global pandemic of COVID-19, we remain committed to supporting our Afghan brothers and sisters. I have given instructions to open the Chaman-Spinboldak border and let trucks crossover into Afghanistan. In this time of crisis, we remain steadfast with Afghanistan,” PM Imran said in a tweet.

Ex-Afghanistan CEO Abdullah Abdullah had thanked PM Imran for keeping the Chaman-Boldak border open.

“I thank PM Imran and Pakistan government for accepting our people and traders' call to keep the Chaman-Boldak border open for the flow of foodstuff and key commodities at this critical time,” Abdullah had tweeted.

The prime minister's decision was viewed with apprehension as Pakistan witnessed higher number of coronavirus cases after pilgrims from Iran entered the country via Taftan border. The number of confirmed cases in Pakistan crossed 500 on Saturday after Sindh reported more cases among zaireen quarantined in Sukkur.