ISLAMABAD - The federal government has decided to fully re-open Pakistan’s western border with Afghanistan, after keeping it closed for over two months to tackle the spread of coronavirus, to facilitate both trade and traveling with the neighbouring country.

A notification issued by the Ministry of Interior says that Torkham and Chaman borders with Afghanistan will remain open for six days a week, except Saturday, to resume bilateral and transit trade.

The border will remain closed for trade on Saturdays, but pedestrian movement will be allowed for that day. The travelers and vehicles involved in cross-border movement have been directed to follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

The notification says that the decision has been taken by the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) in a meeting held on May 15 regarding Afghan transit and bilateral trade.

According to the notification movement of unlimited number of trucks will be allowed daily while ensuring standard SOPs and guidelines for both Afghan bilateral and transit trade.Similarly, Chaman border will remain open for six days a week, except Saturday, for specified timings, as already notified, and movement of unlimited number of trucks will be allowed per day while ensuring SOPs and guidelines.

Saturdays will be reserved for pedestrian movement only, who can cross the border as per the procedure already in place. Standard quarantine protocols and SOPs, as applicable for air passengers, will be implemented for pedestrians as well.

On March 2, Pakistan had closed its border with Afghanistan at Chaman crossing as part of its efforts to prevent spread of coronavirus from the neighbouring countries. On March 16, the government had also closed Pak-Afghan border at Torkham.Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government is gradually moving towards ending complete lockdown and resumption of businesses despite surge in cases of COVID-19. It has also partially resumed domestic flight operations, and allowed provinces to resume public transport.