Pakistan reopens all borders to resume trade with Iran

This file photo shows a general view of Pakistan-Iran border crossing in Taftan on May 23, 2017. (Photo courtesy: Wikipedia/Faiqah A Jabbar)
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Updated 06 July 2020

Pakistan reopens all borders to resume trade with Iran

  • Five terminals were closed in February to limit COVID-19 infections from Tehran

KARACHI: 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.


Macron slams Turkey’s ‘bellicose’ talk on Karabakh conflict

Updated 30 September 2020

Macron slams Turkey’s ‘bellicose’ talk on Karabakh conflict

  • Macron condemned Turkey’s statements backing Azerbaijan in its bid to take back the breakaway region of Nagorny Karabakh
  • Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked for decades in a territorial dispute over Karabakh

RIGA: French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday condemned what he called Turkey’s “reckless and dangerous” statements backing Azerbaijan it its bid to take back the breakaway region of Nagorny Karabakh.
Ankara said on Tuesday it was “fully ready” to help Azerbaijan recover Nagorny Karabakh, as armed conflict escalated with neighboring Armenia over the region.
“I have noted Turkey’s political statements which I think are reckless and dangerous,” Macron told reporters in Latvia’s capital Riga during a visit to the Baltic EU state.
“France remains extremely concerned about the bellicose comments that Turkey made in the last hours, which essentially remove any inhibitions from Azerbaijan in what would be a reconquest of northern Karabakh. That we will not accept,” he added.
He also appeared to voice support for Yerevan: “I say to Armenia and to the Armenians, France will play its role.”
But Macron also said it was too soon to speak of a regional conflict.
He said he would discuss the tensions with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday evening and US President Donald Trump on Thursday before reporting on the situation to the European Council of EU leaders.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked for decades in a territorial dispute over Karabakh and have blamed each other for sparking fierce clashes that erupted on Sunday and have since caused nearly 100 confirmed deaths.
The two sides have so far defied calls for a cease-fire.
Ankara has backed Azerbaijan in the conflict and on Tuesday the Armenian defense ministry said a Turkish F-16 flying in support of Baku’s forces had downed an Armenian SU-25 warplane. Ankara fiercely denied the claim.
Direct Turkish military action against Armenia would mark a major escalation after three days of heavy fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over Karabakh.
And the UN Security Council called on both sides for an immediate end to the fighting.
Viewing Azerbaijan as its close ally and Armenia as its historic foe, Russia also called on Turkey to stop proclaiming support for Azerbaijan and to work toward a diplomatic solution to the escalation, the deadliest since 2016.
The European Union warned Monday regional powers not to interfere in fighting in Nagorny Karabakh, and condemned a “serious escalation” that threatens regional stability.