AFTER remaining closed for three years, trade and travel activities between Pakistan and China through the Khunjerab Pass will resume from Monday. All arrangements have been finalised on both sides to reopen the border point for bilateral trade and other activities under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Under an agreement, trade and travel activities between the two countries through the Khunjerab Pass start on the Ist of April and close on 30 November while there was a daily bus service from Sost Valley of Gilgit-Baltistan to Xinjiang province of China. This arrangement under the framework of CPEC was going well since November 2016 but had to be discontinued in November 2019 as part of the measures to contain the Corona-virus. As the situation improved, there was increasing demand from people of GB to open the border point both for travel and trade as the closure rendered thousands of people jobless as, according to some estimates, about 70% local population depended on the border trade for their livelihood. Reopening of the border trade would not only boost the local economy in GB but also lead to an increase in the volume of bilateral trade between the two countries. There is also a welcome statement from Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar that the government had been working for the revival of CPEC activities and all hurdles in the way of bilateral trade would be removed. However, it is generally complained that the pace of revival of full-scale and full spectrum activities under the CPEC framework is taking too much time due to various hurdles that needed to be removed by the Foreign Office and other relevant ministries through regular and meaningful consultations.