April 29, 2020
The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Pakistani government on Monday approved additional funds in the form of a technical supplementary grant of Rs3 billion for the fencing of the country’s porous border with Iran.
Pakistan started fencing certain areas of the border in May last year. Iran has resisted the move, of which Senate of Pakistan was informed by Frontier Constabulary Balochistan on May 10, 2019.
The 900-kilometer border begins at the Koh-i-Malik Salih mountain and ends at Gwadar Bay in the Gulf of Oman. It goes through a diverse landscape of mountain ridges, seasonal streams and rivers, and is notorious for human trafficking, smuggling and cross-border militancy.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has opened five crossings on the border to allow cargo trucks to cross over to Balochistan, Foreign Office spokeswoman Aisha Farooqui confirmed on Tuesday, adding that no individual movement was permitted.
“All five border points are open for cargo only. Pedestrians can come only through Taftan,” Farooqui told Arab News, referring to another crossing on the 900-kilometer Pakistani-Iranian border in Balochistan province.
Pakistan sealed the border on Feb. 24, after Tehran confirmed coronavirus related deaths.
At Taftan, however, Pakistanis who were in Iran for pilgrimage, continued to cross into Balochistan as Iranian authorities stamped them out.
Other crossing points, namely Gabd, Mand, Katagar and Chedgi, remained closed until the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) decided to open them for transports of dates and other essential commodities.
According to a notification issued by the Ministry of Interior on April 21, the crossing points will remain open three days a week to facilitate trade. Three entry points — Gabd, Mand and Taftan — were reopened on April 21 for up to 50 trucks and 110 pickup vehicles a day in total.
From Monday, entry of 40 trucks and up to 100 pickup vehicles a day — also thrice a week — is allowed at Katagar and Chedgi as well.
According to the ministry’s notification, the trucks can enter between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. The vehicles and cargo have to undergo disinfection after customs clearance. Protective measures are in place to prevent the spread of the virus.