Khunjerab Pass to remain open till Jan 16 to facilitate trade activities

Beijing: Khunjerab Pass, temporarily reopened by the Chinese government on Jan 2, will remain open till Jan 16 to facilitate trade between Pakistan and China.

Situated at an elevation exceeding 4,600 meters (15,000 feet) above sea level, the Khunjerab Pass serves as the highest paved international border, linking Pakistan and China. The pass, an important land route linking Pakistan and China, is conventionally closed from November to March each year due to extreme cold weather conditions, according to media reports.

The border crossing, which links Pakistan’s northern Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) autonomous region with China’s Xinjiang, was previously reopened in April 2023 after nearly three years of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a visit to China in October of the same year, Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar announced plans to transform Khunjerab Pass into an ‘all-weather’ border. However, the pass has remained closed since December 1 due to harsh winter weather.

The Chinese had agreed to open the border temporarily during the specified period (January 2-16) to allow the passage of a few Transports Internationaux Routiers (TIR) consignments and address the issue of Chinese containers stranded on the Pakistani side since December 1.

TIR is an international customs transit system that simplifies border procedures for road transport, reducing the administrative burden for customs authorities.

According to a letter issued by the Chinese embassy in Pakistan, only transportation vehicles, drivers, and cargoes will be permitted to pass during this period.

Approximately 25 empty containers, along with Chinese drivers who were stranded in Pakistan, are expected to cross the Khunjerab border into China.

Around 22 transit consignments under TIR will move from Pakistan to China and the Central Asian Republics (CARs), while three export consignments and eight project consignments meant for the Diamer-Bhasha Dam are set to traverse the border.