PESHAWAR: The Pak-Afghan border at Torkham will remain open round the clock from today (Monday) on experimental basis.

According to security sources, preparations have been completed to keep the border open 24/7. From today, the border will also remain open during night time. The sources said the project of keeping the border open round the clock has been initiated on the directions of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Under the project, the Torkham corridor will remain open during day and night. The sources said the prime minister will formally inaugurate the project.

The sources said the security and Customs officials have initiated work in two shifts. The plan has been made to improve bilateral trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

One January 29, Prime Minister Imran Khan had made directions to concerned authorities to make arrangements for keeping Torkham border open 24/7 within six months. He said this step will promote bilateral trade and people-to-people contacts.

“I have tasked the relevant government stakeholders to make the necessary arrangements for the Torkham border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan to remain open 24/7 within the next six months,” the premier had said in a tweet.

Experts said this step by the prime minister will positively impact the Pak-Afghan trade. In 2012, annual trade volume between Pakistan and Afghanistan via Torkham border was Rs350 billion. However, this trade volume reduced to Rs120 billion in 2018. Now the government aims to again achieve higher volume of trade with Afghanistan by keeping the border open round the clock.

Under the same spirit, 54 Customs officers were appointed on Torkham border a month ago to facilitate round the clock trade as announced by Imran Khan.

According to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the purpose of deputing additional Customs officials is to fulfil the promise made by Imran Khan to keep Torkham border open 24 hours to boost exports.

The opening of the border round the clock was also warmly welcomed by the KP business community which termed it a right initiative to boost economic and trade activities with Afghanistan and other regional countries as the province’s trade and industry is mainly dependent on exports to Afghanistan.