The Khunjerab Pass, a major land port on the China-Pakistan border in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, have resumed passenger customs clearance, local authorities confirmed. The pass connecting Gilgit-Baltistan with the China’s region officially resumed the entry and exit of passengers this week after a closure of three years in wake of Covid-19 restrictions. The port authorities on the Chinese side of Khunjerab Pass were instructed to take all necessary measures regarding Covid-19 pandemic before the start of the arrival of goods from Pakistan. Similarly, Pakistani border authorities were also instructed to take all measures regarding Covid-19, ensuring the containment of the disease. Because of cold weather and lack of oxygen in the high altitude, the Khunjerab Pass generally opens from April 1 to November 30 every year, and remains closed from December 1 to March 31 of the following year. But to ensure the smooth customs clearance of Pakistan’s urgently needed and other supplies, the port was temporarily opened twice early this year. With difficulties including extremely cold weather, heavy snow and lack of oxygen, the local customs worked around the clock to ensure the transportation of cargo. This year, the last temporary opening was last for 12 days between January 30 and February 10 while the first port opening was between January 19 and 20 this year. The two temporary openings facilitated 128 cross-border personnel visits, 328 transportation vehicles’ passes, and more than 6,000 tons of goods exported, as per the Foreign Affairs Office of Kashgar prefecture. While commenting on reopening of the pass, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Mao Ning said the Chinese side was ready to work with Pakistan to resume the opening, make the clearance more efficient and further serve personnel exchange and economic cooperation between the two countries. She pointed out that out of the friendship between the two countries, China reopened the port temporarily multiple times during the COVID-19 shutdown to help with the smooth passing of people from Pakistan and customs clearance of emergency supplies. Talking to APP, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal termed reopening of the pass a very positive development after three years and expressed the confidence that the trade through the land route. He hoped that the Khunjerab border facility would be upgraded by both sides so that it could remain open for 12 months and it became an all-weather facility. About its impact on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and bilateral trade, he said that it was good news for the CPEC projects and it was also good news for Pakistan-China bilateral trade and business. He said particularly the people in Gilgit-Baltistan would greatly benefit from local trade through the border post. Ahsan Iqbal said efforts were being made to resume bus service between Pakistan and China through the Khunjerab Pass to provide economical means of transportation to Pakistani students studying in China. Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Moin-ul-Haque, in a tweet, said the resumption of operations via the Khunjerab Pass would serve to further bolster Pak-China trade and people-to-people linkage. He said the two side were now working to keep the border crossing open all year round. According to the customs officials, import and export cargo volume at the Khunjerab Pass topped 200,000 tonnes from 2016 to 2020. Located approximately 5,000 meters above sea level, the Khunjerab Pass is a major trade station between China and Pakistan, and an important gateway to South Asia and Europe. China imports mainly textiles, agricultural products and daily commodities at the land port, and exports mainly plants and herbs.