Trade and travel activities between Pakistan and China through the Khunjerab Pass will resume on Monday, after remaining closed for three years, according to sources.
Both sides have agreed to reopen the border point for bilateral trade and other activities under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as all arrangements have been finalized.
Under an agreement, trade and travel activities between the two countries through the Khunjerab pass commenced on April 1, 2016, and the pass had been closed on November 30, 2019, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
While in operation, there was a daily bus service from the Sost Valley of Gilgit-Baltistan to Xinjiang province of China, facilitating the movement of travelers and commercial goods along the dry border.
The pass connects Pakistan’s Gilgit Baltistan region with China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and is scheduled to be fully operational from April 1, 2023.
The prolonged closure of the pass had caused serious financial hardships to the local business community, while thousands of workers lost their jobs respectively. During the last three years, the Khunjerab Pass had been opened occasionally for emergency cargo transportation from China to Pakistan on specific days.
Both Chinese and Pakistani officials have agreed to reopen Khunjerab Pass for trade and travel activities from Monday, April 3, and the process of issuing border pass would start soon, according to Gilgit Baltistan Home Secretary Rana Mohammad Saleem Afzal, reported Dawn.
The border usually remains open from April 1 to November 30 every year and remains closed from December 1 to March 31 due to harsh winter weather conditions and lack of oxygen at high altitudes.
Pakistan and China have boosted bilateral economic and trade relations over the past years. More specifically, in the recent past, China has approved major loans to help Pakistan recover from the economic crisis the country is currently faced with.