Islamabad: The Pakistan government has decided to re-open the Wagah border, allowing Afghan exports to India from Wednesday.
According to a Foreign office statement, the decision has been taken after Afghanistan government requested for facilitating its transit trade, adding that the trade would be conducted under the COVID-19 protocols.
“With this step, Pakistan has fulfilled its commitments under the Pakistan-Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA). Pakistan has restored bilateral trade and Afghan transit trade at all border crossing terminals to pre-Covid-19 status,” the statement said.
The trade route was suspended in March, after the spread of novel coronavirus with Islamabad closing down all land border crossings with its neighbours, including India.
Under the 2010 bilateral trade agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Afghan exports to India are allowed through the Wagah border.
However, the agreement does not allow Indian exports to Afghanistan through the Pakistani territory.
Pakistan recently reopened the Angor Adda Border Crossing with Afghanistan for bilateral trade while Kharlachi crossing was also opened for traffic.
“Trade should be the mainstay of Pak-Afghan relations and prosperity of region on both sides of the border,” said Pakistan’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan Ambassador Mohammad Sadiq.
“We are moving ahead with promoting economic activity on both sides of the border. The COVID-19 SOPs are slowing us down a bit but our direction is right.”
The decision has come as a positive relief to the Afghan Traders, who were blaming Islamabad for taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic for one-sided trade benefits.
The Afghan Traders Union said: “exports from Afghanistan, mainly perishable agricultural products, were barred from entering Pakistan amid the coronavirus outbreak since March. Goods from Pakistan, however, continued to be exported to Afghanistan.”
“Restrictions cost Afghan traders losses worth more than $100 million,” said Omaid Haidari, Trade body Chairman.
“Hundreds of trucks loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables destined for Pakistan and then India remained stranded at the main Chaman Torkham crossing points for months.”