A key border-crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan will now remain open for 24 hours, a move which is likely to give a boost to a struggling trade between the two neighbours, an official said.
Torkham – one of the 18 border crossings between the two countries that connects Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber district with Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province – will now stay open round the clock for the first time in the recent history for cross-border movement, The Express Tribune quoted Mahmood Wazir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Deputy Commissioner, as telling the media on Saturday.
Previously, the Torkham crossing remained operational for 12 hours only, which would cause night-long wait for the truckers on either sides of the border.
Apart from truckers, patients from bordering Afghan provinces too had to suffer in case of an emergency due to the border closure during the night.
The border has been operational round the clock for the last five days on probationary basis, the official said, adding that over 1,600 additional trucks have crossed from both sides only at night during this period.
Prime Minister Imran Khan together with senior Afghan officials, including Governor of Nangarhar province, is expected to officially inaugurate the 24/7 service on September 18 at Torkham border, Wazir added.
Pakistan has also established a state-of-the -art Pakistan-Afghanistan Friendship Hospital at Torkham border to provide medical facilities to the patients from Afghanistan.
Trade between the neighbours is conducted under the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement, a bilateral deal signed in 2010.
The current trade volume is hugely weighted towards Pakistan, which is said to have an 80 per cent share.