KABUL: Pakistan on Saturday reopened its border with Afghanistan to allow the crossing over of trucks carrying food and essential goods under the Afghan Transit Trade, customs officials informed on Saturday. The cross-border movement of trucks came a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced the opening of the Chaman-Spinboldak border “to support our Afghan brothers and sisters” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In the first phase, 50 trucks with fresh fruits and vegetables entered Afghanistan after clearance from customs officials. The officials said that the clearance process was completed late on Friday.
Pakistan had sealed the Chaman border on March 1 in order to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. All cross-border movement was suspended as Islamabad made hectic efforts to screen travelers for the virus.
The Pakistani prime minister had given directions on Friday to open the Chaman-Spinboldak border as a gesture of support for Afghanistan.
“Despite the global pandemic of COVID-19, we remain committed to supporting our Afghan brothers and sisters. I have given instructions to open the Chaman-Spinboldak border and let trucks crossover into Afghanistan. In this time of crisis, we remain steadfast with Afghanistan,” PM Imran said in a tweet.
Meanwhile a number of Afghan residents welcomed the move and called upon Pakistan to show their goodwill gestures in every sphere.
“We thank Pakistan’s civilian government for the support in such a crucial time. But we hope that the neighboring country’s military wing also support us and extend peaceful hands to our country,” an Afghan student of law and political science in one of the private universities of Kabul, Yama Noori, told The Kabul Times daily.
Meanwhile another citizen from the western Herat province, where the epidemic is badly threatening the city’s residents asking Iranian government to do the same as Pakistan did.
“Iran should stop forced deportation of Afghan refugee at this crucial time. They should follow the attitude of Pakistani officials,” Amena Hashimi said, asking Afghan government to take further measures in countering the challenges before citizens.
The Pakistani prime minister’s decision was viewed with apprehension as Pakistan witnessed higher number of coronavirus cases after pilgrims from Iran entered the country via Taftan border. The number of confirmed cases in Pakistan crossed 500 on Saturday after Sindh reported more cases among zaireen quarantined in Sukkur. The affected cases also reached to 32 in Afghansitan.