Last Updated: September 16, 2023, 12:35 IST
A key border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan reopened Friday after an eight-day closure due to clashes between the border forces of the two countries. Pakistan closed the Torkham border in the northwestern part of the country on September 6 after guards from both countries exchanged fire. It accused Taliban authorities of building “unlawful structures” in the vicinity.
Pakistani government official Nasir Khan said the crossing reopened Friday morning, giving relief to a number of travellers and goods-laden trucks that were stranded on both sides of the border after the shooting incident. Afghanistan’s commissioner in Torkham, Ismatullah Yaqoob, said stranded trucks and pedestrians have started passing through the border.
A three-day relaxation for going back to Afghanistan was also granted to those Afghans who had no proper travel documents but were in possession of the Afghan national identity card, according to the Dawn newspaper. Immigration officials at Torkham said some stranded Pakistanis also returned on Friday after the reopening of the border, adding that over 10,000 Afghan nationals crossed the border from both sides till the evening.
A representative from the Pakistan and Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce welcomed the move. “The reopening has ended the nine-day-long trouble faced by traders on both sides of the border,” said Ziaul Haq Sarhadi. Traders have faced heavy losses in perishable items, he said.
Pakistani media reports said that more than 2,000 vehicles got stranded on the Pakistan side, in addition to containers carrying Afghan Transit Trade goods. Citing sources, Dawn said the authorities in Islamabad agreed to reopen the Torkham border only after an assurance from the foreign ministry in Kabul that the Afghan territory would not be allowed to be used for attacks in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s envoy to Afghanistan Ubaidur Rehman Nizamani met the Taliban administration’s Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in Kabul a day earlier. They discussed the recent surge in terror incidents and the closure of Torkham.
Pakistan accuses its neighbor of harboring militants and allowing them to use its soil to launch attacks. Afghanistan has rejected this allegation.
(With agency inputs)