PM wants Torkham border to remain open round the clock

PESHWAWAR: Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the concerned authorities to make arrangements for keeping the Pak-Afghan border in Torkhum open round the clock to promote bilateral trade.

In a message on Twitter, the premier said these measures must be completed within six months.

“I have tasked the relevant govt stakeholders to make necessary arrangements for the Torkham border to work round the clock within next 6 months,” the premier wrote, adding: “This step will be instrumental in boosting bilateral trade & enhancing people to people contacts between the two brotherly countries.”

The premier made this statement after a statement by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Finance Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra that the federal and provincial governments in a meeting had decided to expedite the reopening of the Torkham border crossing.

Adviser to the PM on Establishment Shehzad Arbab chaired a meeting at the PM Office in Islamabad. The meeting was told that currently, Torkham border remains open for seven to 10 hours a day. The meeting discussed in detail the pros and cons of opening the border for 24 hours. It was agreed that the opening of the border will promote trade between the two countries.

The border closure due to security and other issues damaged the bilateral trade during the recent years. The border mostly remained closed due to cross border infiltration and terror attacks in Pakistan by militants based in Afghanistan.

The border fencing is another issue which led to the closure of the border. Pakistan is fencing the 2,600 kilometres border to stop infiltration and regulate the movement across the border. Pakistan says terror attacks from Afghan side have considerably reduced after initiation of the border fencing.

On Sunday, Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) visited North Waziristan along with a team of national and foreign journalists and briefed them about border fencing.

The military spokesman said work on about 900 kilometres fence along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border has been completed. He said in initial phase 1,200 kilometres chunk of the total 2,600 kilometres border will be completed which is the most sensitive area from security point of view.

Asif Ghafoor said the border fencing will cost Rs70 billion. He said the fencing will also conclude installation of equipment to check the entry of people from both sides. He said the completion of the project will end cross border attacks and it is expected to complete next year. The DG ISPR told media persons that 1,200 kilometres portion of the fencing will come in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the rest in Balochistan.