Pakistan has vowed to extend the access of Afghans to Torkham Crossing from 12 hours to 24 hours, President Ashraf Ghani acknowledged at a meeting with Afghan investors in Pakistan during his two-day visit to the neighboring country on June 28.
Normally, the Torkham gate is opened for Afghan investors and travelers from 8 am to 8 pm – for 12 hours a day. Torkham is the main crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan through which thousands of Afghans are traveling on a daily basis.
Ghani addressed Afghan investors, Afghan refugees and Pakistani officials at three separate events. At one of them in Lahore on June 28, Ghani said that he held talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Pakistani Army’s Chief of Staff Gen. Qamar Bajwah where they vowed to allow Afghan trucks to cross Wagah and have direct access to India.
The reopening of Wagah port to Afghan investors is not new for the private sector as they expect the Pakistani government to implement its previous commitments about providing more facilities to the traders who pass through Wagah to India.
“The trade volume [between Afghanistan and Pakistan] has reduced to $1 billion from $3 billion in the past. At least 70,000 containers [of Afghan traders] were transited through Karachi [port]. This number has reduced to 10,000. Trade through Wagah has also decreased,” the acting head of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Khan Jan Alokozai, told TOLOnews on Saturday.
This comes as Pakistan has closed its airspace to Afghan flights en route to India due to its tensions with New Delhi. This has increased the flight cost from $150 in the past to almost $500 for each person.
Figures by the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority show that the closure of Pakistan’s airspace to Afghan flights brings $8 million monthly loss to aviation companies in Afghanistan.