July 06, 2020
Starting Sunday, Pakistan will resume trade at four of its border points with Iran, weeks after opening its main Taftan crossing on June 17, a foreign office spokesperson told Arab News on Sunday.
“All five points are open from today. Taftan is the main border for travel and trade,” Aisha Farooqui said.
The border opening follows a directive issued by the Interior Ministry on Friday instructing officials to reopen the crossings based on a decision taken during a National Command Operation Center (NCOC) meeting a day earlier.
The border points will be open only for the purpose of trade and the ban on the cross-border movement of people will remain in place until further notice.
“Gabd, Mand, Katagar, and Chedgi borders will remain open seven days a week, from morning till evening, as per mutually agreed-upon timings between both countries with effect from July 5, 2020, only for trade … while ensuring all COVID-19-related SOPS and protocols (are followed),” the notification said about the border points, which were temporarily opened for cargo on April 21.
Pakistan closed its borders with Iran on Feb. 24, after the neighboring country reported a spike in COVID-19 infections.
Four days later, it reopened the Taftan crossing to allow 300 stranded nationals, mostly traders, to re-enter the western province of Balochistan, of which Quetta is the capital.
Prior to the borders’ closure in February, thousands of Pakistanis, mostly pilgrims, had been quarantined at the Taftan border crossing in Balochistan after returning from Iran, which at that time was one of the worst-affected countries in the world.
A few weeks later in March, Pakistani traders urged the government to improve quarantine facilities and screening at the borders instead of closing the frontiers completely.
The two countries had resorted to a barter trade system to “mainly exchange essential commodities and in some cases raw materials,” according to Badar Uddin Kakar, senior vice president of the Quetta Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“The barter trade between Pakistan and Iran stood at around $1 billion,” Kakar told Arab News.