KARACHI, Pakistan

Pakistan on Saturday announced reopening three key trade routes with neighboring Afghanistan from June 22.

Abdul Razzak Dawood, prime minister’s adviser on trade, who acts as trade minister, announced the reopening of southwestern Chaman, northwestern Torkham and Ghulam Khan border crossings after months-long closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

All the three routes will remain open six days a week only for trade activities, Dawood said in a Twitter post.

The move followed a nearly 50% reported decrease — from $2.7 billion to $1.4 billion — in bilateral trade between the two countries in recent years.

Escalating diplomatic tensions and frequent border closures have had a chilling effect on Pakistan-Afghanistan trade in recent years.

The volume of trade between landlocked Afghanistan and its southern neighbor have been mostly affected by terrorist attacks in Pakistan that Islamabad blames on Afghanistan-based militants, which in turn led to the closure of border crossings.

The three key borders which respectively connect northeastern and southern Afghanistan, had remained closed for several months at different times since 2014.

The months-long closure of border crossings led to huge losses for traders, especially Afghan fruit merchants.

Relations between the two neighbors have been rocky in recent years as both sides accuse each other of supporting and providing sanctuaries to the militants.

Pakistan and Afghanistan share 18 crossing points. The most commonly used ones are Torkham and Chaman.

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