Home / Blog / Pakistan exports eight shipments of rock salt to China via Khunjerab border

Pakistan exports eight shipments of rock salt to China via Khunjerab border

Feb 16, 2024Feb 16, 2024

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan exported eight shipments of 35 tons of Himalayan rock salt to China via the Khunjerab border crossing between June and July this year, China’s state-owned CGTN news channel reported on Wednesday.

Situated at 5,000 meters above sea level, the Khunjerab Pass is the world’s highest paved international border crossing and serves as a key trade route linking China and Pakistan, enabling trade for Chinese imports and exports between South Asia and Europe.

Trade activities between the two countries through the Khunjerab Pass go on each year from April to November. Trade activity between China and Pakistan under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) began via the Karakoram Highway, which passes through Khunjerab, in November 2016.

The border point was temporarily closed in 2019 to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, but reopened in April this year with a resumption of cross-border trade activities.

“From June to July this year, we received eight shipments [of Himalayan rock salt], amounting to 35 tons [from Pakistan],” China’s customs director at the Khunjerab Port, Zhang Xiaobo, told CGTN.

In addition to rock salt, China also imported copper, wooden handicrafts, and carpets from Pakistan, the official added.

“Import and export volume across the Khunjerab Port stand at 40 to 80 thousand tons per year, while the daily imports are about 471.6 tons,” he said.

Pakistani traders regularly utilize buses plying between the two nations for trade purposes and are granted a tax-free trade quota of $1,100 per day. This growing convenience is increasingly appealing to Pakistani exporters who in the past used the considerably longer sea route to transport goods to China.

Last week, China and Pakistan initiated an international road transport (TIR) route connecting China’s Kashgar and Pakistan’s Islamabad, potentially establishing a model for future trade routes within the CPEC project. The first cargo crossed into Pakistan via this route on August 27.

Longtime ally Beijing has pledged over $65 billion for CPEC infrastructure projects in Pakistan as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) since 2013. The corridor includes a network of roads, railways, pipelines, and ports in Pakistan, linking China to the Arabian Sea and aiding Islamabad’s economic expansion and modernization.

Currently, trade between China and Pakistan exceeds $12.06 billion, up nearly 19 percent compared to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ISLAMABAD: Over the past seven decades, the Pakistan military’s canine center has trained hundreds of dogs that have not only taken part in local military and anti-narcotics operations but also been deployed in search and rescue missions worldwide, the Commandant of the Army Canine Centre said this week.

The center was established in the garrison city of Rawalpindi in 1952 to breed, nurture, and train dogs for deployment in various military units and formations. To date, instructors at the facility have trained thousands of dogs to take part in military operations, anti-narcotics efforts, and post-disaster rescue missions.

“Nine courses are being run at this canine centre and we receive students from army, from air force and navy, as well as from the civilian armed forces and law enforcement agencies,” Colonel Muhammad Hasan, Commandant Army Canine Centre, told Arab News in an interview on Tuesday.

The center’s commandant said the dogs underwent puppy training before being put into specialized training for six to eight months.

“For each course, we require different attributes from the dog,” Hasan said. “Like in guard dogs, we require aggression, and for sniffers, we require agility plus nose work. So, our master trainer picks these dogs and starts training them.”

Hasan said the center preferred three breeds – German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, and Labrador Retrievers – and trained them according to their distinct characteristics.

The trained dogs had been an “integral part” of all military operations in the country, particularly to sniff out IEDs and arms and explosives, and perform tracking duties, the commandant said.

“Since 2012 when these dogs were deployed in operational areas [to fight militants], the number of IEDs has reduced by about 90 percent, and the number of incidents decreased drastically,” Hasan said.

In one incident, a chocolate coloured Labrador named Proton, deployed in Khyber tribal district in Pakistan’s northwest, was ambushed and killed by militants after recovering over 100 IEDs and large quantities of ammunition in dozens of operations in 2014.

“To recognize him, the chief of the army staff [Gen Raheel Sharif], on the recommendation of our directorate, suggested a medal for these unsung heroes, and the Proton medal has since been awarded to five dogs in various categories so far,” Hasan said.

The centre had also trained students from foreign countries:

“Mostly they come from the Arab countries and we train them in the art and science of dog handling as well as canine training,” the commandant said.

During last year’s FIFA World Cup, 40 Pakistani dog handlers were sent to Doha with a military contingent to perform security and protection responsibilities.

Dogs from the training center have also performed international assignments, including rescue work in Nepal and Turkey after earthquakes, the colonel said.

“Our urban search and rescue dogs participated in the rescue missions in Nepal in 2022 and 2023 in Turkey,” Hasan said, “where they recovered dead bodies and live humans and animals.”

MULTAN: World number one batter Babar Azam and Iftikhar Ahmed scored punishing hundreds as Pakistan annihilated Nepal by 238 runs in the opening game of the Asia Cup in Multan on Wednesday.

Skipper Azam smashed a 131-ball 151 for his 19th ODI hundred while Ahmed scored an unbeaten 109 in 71 balls for his first as Pakistan piled up 342-6 in 50 overs.

The home team then bundled out Nepal for a mere 104 in 23.4 overs with leg-spinner Shadab Khan taking 4-27 while the pace duo of Haris Rauf took 2-16 and Shaheen Shah Afridi 2-27.

Only Sompal Kami (28), Aarif Sheikh (26) and Gulsan Jha (13) made it into double figures as they struggled against Pakistan's much-vaunted bowling attack.

The win gives Pakistan, who rose to world number one in the ODI rankings last week, an ideal start and tune up for the high profile clash against arch-rivals India in Pallekele on Saturday.

The Asia Cup is being played on a hybrid model this year with Pakistan hosting four matches and Sri Lanka nine after India refused to tour Pakistan because of political tensions.

Pakistan, India and Nepal are in Group A while title-holders Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are in Group B

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh meet in Pallekele on Thursday.

Nepal, playing in the Asia Cup for the first time, had bowled well to keep the home team down to 124-4 in the 28th over but were clueless in the final overs against the onslaught from Azam and Ahmed.

The pair added a robust 214 off 131 balls for the fifth wicket, which took Pakistan to a formidable total.

Azam cracked 14 boundaries and four sixes while Ahmed hit 11 boundaries and four sixes, helping Pakistan to 129 runs in the last 10 overs including 67 in the final five.

Azam was dropped on 55 when Karan Chhetri put down a caught-and-bowled chance, while Nepal's ground fielding also often faltered.

Pakistan lost opener Fakhar Zaman for 14 in the sixth over, while Imam-ul-Haq was run out for five to leave Pakistan tottering at 25-2.

Azam added 86 for the third wicket with Mohammad Rizwan (44) before Rizwan was also run out. Agha Salman fell for five, leaving Azam and Ahmed to mount a rescue operation.

Ahmed's previous best ODI score was 94 not out against New Zealand in Karachi this year.

Fast bowler Kami was the best for Nepal with 2-85.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani religious scholars and leaders across faiths on Wednesday called for integrating interfaith education into the national curricula and community policing to prevent and address communal violence.

The leaders spoke through a declaration released after an ‘Interfaith Harmony Conference’ organized by the Ministry of Religious Affairs that brought together religious leaders and representatives from various communities as well as foreign diplomats and members of civil society to discuss attacks on religious sites, desecration of holy scriptures, and the safety of minorities.

The conclave comes nearly two weeks after one of the worst incidents of communal violence in Pakistan in recent memory this month when a Muslim mob ransacked several churches and homes of Christians in the city of Jaranwala over allegations two Christian brothers had desecrated the Qur'an.

“We emphasize the importance of integrating interfaith education into educational curricula at all levels to promote a deeper understanding of various religious traditions and cultivate an atmosphere of acceptance,” a declaration passed unanimously by the participants of the interfaith conference said.

“We urge law enforcement agencies to enhance community policing efforts, preventing and promptly addressing interfaith violence and hate crimes.”

“We support peaceful mechanisms of conflict resolution, such as dialogue, mediation, and legal avenues, to address grievances and disputes among different religious communities,” the declaration added.

Addressing the conference, Caretaker Religious Affairs Minister Aneeq Ahmed said the entire nation stood with Christians against the “Jaranwala tragedy.”

“No Christian has been killed in the incident,” he said, “but we believe that what happened in Jaranwala should not have happened.”

Last week, the provincial government of Punjab province said it had approved compensation of two million rupees ($6,751.05) for each of the affected families. A 24-member committee to foster interfaith harmony was also announced by the Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) and the Church of Pakistan, comprising leaders from both the Muslim and Christian faiths.

Among the sites attacked included the historic Salvation Army Church and Saint Paul Catholic Church, three smaller churches and scores of houses. A Christian graveyard was also desecrated, residents and community leaders said, as a mob armed with iron rods, sticks, bricks, knife and daggers went on the rampage without any intervention by police and administration authorities who were present there for over 10 hours.

Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan but no one has ever been executed.

Numerous people accused of blasphemy have been lynched by outraged mobs in the past. A former provincial governor and a minister for minorities were shot dead for trying to reform the blasphemy law.

OKARA:The coursing floods in eastern Pakistan first swallowed Nasreen Bibi’s corn crop, then the cattle that fed on it, and finally her family home.

They retreated to the roof to escape the rising water, before fleeing for their lives by boat.

“We didn’t bring any of our belongings with us, everything we own is abandoned back there,” said Bibi, who guesses her age in the 30s, from a relief camp inside a school in Mandi Ahmedabad, a village in eastern Punjab province.

“There is nothing left back home,” she said, wiping away tears in a tent she shares with three young daughters.

“Fear plays on my children’s minds.”

Swaths of Pakistan’s breadbasket were inundated this month, with at least 130,000 people evacuated, after the Sutlej river burst its banks and spilled over hundreds of villages and thousands of acres.

The head of Punjab’s government, Mohsin Naqvi, said the flooding was caused by India releasing excess reservoir water into the Sutlej river, causing flooding downstream on the Pakistani side of the border.

With the water slowly receding, a ramshackle armada of 40 boats makes twice-daily food and aid deliveries to 80 water-bound villages where men perch on roofs guarding sodden possessions.

The floodwaters are still some eight feet (2.4 meters) deep, and the boats skim past the tops of waterlogged corn stalks blanched by the sun.

A family’s financial security depends on agriculture in this largely impoverished corner of Pakistan.

Mud houses lie in ruins, with tumbled walls pooled in stagnant water, in Falak De Bheni, a village of 100 homes surrounded by drowned fields of sesame and rice.

“I don’t want to plant a crop here next year, my heart can’t bear it,” Muhammad Tufail, 38, said as he stood at his ruined door surveying the damage.

“I don’t even know how much money I spent, how many troubles I went through, to plant these crops. But the flood has left nothing in its wake.”

More than 175 people were killed in Pakistan in rain-related incidents since the monsoon season began in late June, mainly due to electrocution and buildings collapsing, emergency services have reported.

Large tracts of rural Pakistan were ruined by record monsoon floods last summer that scientists linked to climate change and from which it is still recovering.

A third of the country was submerged and 1,700 people were killed, while eight million were displaced.

The villages along the Sutlej River were spared in that deluge but are now battling the highest water levels in 35 years, authorities have said.

The assistant commissioner of Dipalpur — the hardest-hit area in this year’s flood — said 11 rescue centers and five relief camps had been set up, with 4,600 emergency boat trips made since the floods came in mid-August.

The flooded villages of Dipalpur remain without electricity two weeks after the floods started.

Most of the cattle have been evacuated but those left behind have nothing left to feed on.

“Fodder has washed away,” said 50-year-old Taj Bibi, struggling to keep a buffalo, a cow and a calf alive on leaves chopped from trees.

“Our cattle are begging us for food but we have nothing to give them,” she said. “We are dying of hunger and so are our animals.”

At Bashir De Bheni, a small hamlet of 15 houses built on the submerged river bank, rescue workers dropped off antibiotics and rehydration medicine for a toddler suffering diarrhea and high fever.

“Every problem imaginable has befallen us,” said 60-year-old villager Muhammad Yasin.

MULTAN: As the Asia Cup kicks off in Multan on Wednesday with the hosts taking on minnows Nepal, Pakistanis felt “disappointed” over the Indian team’s decision to stay away from Pakistan’s shores.

Political tensions between India and Pakistan mean the two South Asian rivals only play each other at international tournaments. The last time the Indian cricket team arrived in Pakistan was in 2008 for the 50-over Asia Cup tournament.

India’s refusal to play on Pakistani soil forced the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to settle for a “hybrid model” according to which only four of the 13 Asia Cup matches would be played in Pakistan. The other nine would be played in Sri Lanka.

Since gaining independence from British colonial India in 1047, India and Pakistan have fought three wars against each other. However, the people of the two cricket-mad nations have immense respect for each other’s cricket stars and an India-Pakistan match is always a big-ticket spectacle. Often, it is one of the biggest and most watched events in the global sporting calendar.

“India is our neighbor and we harbor positive feelings for them,” Muhammad Tariq, a 28-year-old shop owner, told Arab News at the Hussain Agahi Market, one of Multan’s busiest marketplaces.

“Had they come to Multan, we would have been happy to see them in action,” he said. “But if they didn’t come, then it is their wish. We can’t force anyone.”

“It’s disappointing that they did not come to Pakistan,” Ahmed, 31, the owner of a sports shop, told Arab News. “We wanted the entire Asia Cup to take place in Pakistan and watch Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma bat here [in Pakistan]. They also have a lot of good bowlers.”

Muhammad Raza Baqir, the owner of another sports shop, welcomed the fact that the Asia Cup opener was taking place in Multan.

However, he said people were also facing hardships due to the stringent security measures taken by authorities.

“It’s good that these sports events are taking place in Multan and they also have a positive effect on our businesses,” he said. “But when the administration closes roads [due to security], it creates hardships for people.”

Like others too, Baqir was also looking forward to the Indian cricket squad playing in Pakistan.

“Our stakeholders, however, should think about this: if a country does not want to tour you, despite the fact that you invited them as guests, there is some fault in us for sure,” he said.

While Sharma and Babar Azam’s team may not square off on Pakistani soil, India and Pakistan will lock horns against each other on September 2 in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

The two teams may even face each other thrice in the tournament if they make it to the final.

And Ahmed wants just that.

“We are praying that Pakistan and India face each other in the final,” Ahmed said with a grin. “And I hope Pakistan wins.”